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Article Summary

A Guide To Bath Salts Addiction

Contrary to popular opinion, bath salts are not related to bathing. Rather, they are among the newest addictive drugs on the streets. They are referred to by this moniker because retailers package them as products for soothing baths and not for consumption.

Before they were illegalized, sellers used this type of packaging to ensure that their batches did not get confiscated. At the time, the drugs were widely available at head shops and convenience stores.

Today, bath salts are illegal in the US. As a direct result, retailers market them more discretely. Users, on the other hand, inject, snort, or ingest the drugs. Evidence of consumption usually comes in the form of small foil packages left behind by an user.

These drugs are quite addictive and might lead to spates of horrific attacks - including uncharacteristic violence and cannibalism. However, numerous myths have risen about the use of these substances.

Read on to learn more about bath salts and dispel the myths surrounding their use, availability, effects, withdrawal symptoms, dangers, overdose, potential for addiction, and more:

Understanding Bath Salts

Bath salts are synthetic cathinones similar to the same stimulant chemicals found in khat. Khat is naturally grown in Southern Arabia and East Africa where users chew the shrub's leaves and stems for their stimulant effects.

Since bath salts are a synthetic variant of cathinones, they tend to be stronger than khat. In some cases, they might also prove to be dangerous or even fatal, particularly when overdose occurs.

These substances are in the same class as other drugs referred to by public health officials as NPS (new psychoactive substances). More specifically, new psychoactive substances are unregulated mind-altering drugs that are designed to simulate the effects achieved from abusing illegal drugs.

However, you should not confuse bath salts, which contain synthetic cathinones with the Epsom salts used for bathing. These products are often touted as cheap substitutes for stimulants cocaine and methamphetamine. Products sold as MDMA (Molly) might also contain synthetic chemicals.

In many instances, bath salts are available in the form of a brown or white crystal-like powder. They are sold in small foil or plastic packages labeled 'not suitable for human consumption'. Other retailers label them as phone screen cleaners, jewelry cleaners, or plant food.

Other brand names for bath salts found in drug paraphernalia stores, on the street, and over the internet include:

  • Bliss
  • Bloom
  • Blue Silk
  • Charge Plus
  • Cloud Nine
  • Drone
  • Energy-1
  • Flakka
  • Hurricane Charlie
  • Ivory Wave
  • Lunar Wave
  • Meow Meow
  • Ocean Burst
  • Ocean Snow
  • Plant Fertilizer
  • Plant Food
  • Pure Ivory
  • Purple Sky
  • Purple Wave
  • Red Dove
  • Scarface
  • Sextasy
  • Snow Leopard
  • Stardust
  • Vanilla Sky
  • White Dove
  • White Lightening
  • White Night
  • White Rush
  • Zoom

In 2012, the SDAPA (the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act) made it illegal to use, distribute, or posses most of the chemicals in bath salts, including MDPV and Mephedrone. Another such chemical, Methylone, is currently banned and regulated by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Overall, this law covers a total of 26 chemicals, most of which include chemicals used in synthesizing drugs. The chemicals are also labeled as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act meaning that they carry a high potential for addiction and abuse with no medicinal value whatsoever.

Bath Salt Uses

At the moment, bath salts have no legal medical uses. Instead, abusers take the drug for its psychoactive and euphoric effects. More specifically, they inject, snort, swallow, or smoke these synthetic cathinones.

Chemically similar to MDMA, cocaine, and amphetamines, synthetic cathinones are likely to affect the brain in different ways. At the moment, researchers have discovered that the drugs cause depression, anxiety, and lowered inhibition, among other effects.

Bath Salt Effects

People who abuse bath salts report energizing but agitating effects. The drugs might also raise your blood pressure and heart rate. A recent study discovered that MDPV (3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) - a common cathinone - affects the brain in much the same way that cocaine does. The only difference is that the cathinone is 10 times as powerful as cocaine.

The other effects arising from bath salt abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Excited delirium
  • Extreme agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart problems
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased sociability
  • Loss of coordination
  • Malnutrition
  • Mood disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Ulcers
  • Violent behavior

Abusing bath salts might also cause nausea, sweating, and nosebleeds among users. If you take the drug and experience excited delirium, you are also highly likely to suffer from kidney failure, skeletal muscle tissue breakdown, and dehydration. On the other hand, injecting or snorting bath salts might lead to death.

In many cases, the effects of abusing bath salts can last for around 3 to 4 hours. However, increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and other stimulant effects might last longer.

In some people, taking a high dose also causes extended and intense panic attacks. The drug might also disrupt your sleep and sleep-deprivation psychosis before eventually leading to addiction

Mentally, you are likely to experience agitation, anxiety, and alertness. You will probably lose your appetite and get tense muscles, dilated pupils, nosebleeds, and increased body temperature. Other effects include confusion and dizziness, as well as grinding of the teeth - although these are mild effects.

Bath Salt Side Effects

One of the dangerous side effects arising from abusing bath salts lies in the drug's potential for addiction. However, since most of the properties of synthetic cathinones are similar to those arising from cocaine abuse, the side effects are also quite similar. They include:

  • Bizarre behavior
  • Cardiac issues
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Erratic behavior
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of coordination
  • Malnutrition
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Ulcers

The drug might also increase your risk of suffering mood disorders, which might eventually result in suicidal thoughts and actions, anxiety, and extreme depression. These side effects may lead to delirium and self-mutilation.

Bath Salt Addictive Qualities

Bath salts have a powerful potential for addiction. The drug may induce tolerance meaning that your body will require a higher dose to experience the same kind of high you got when you first took the drug.

Reports show that you can also suffer intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users. Since the drugs might have been cut using other unknown (and potentially addictive) drugs, the true magnitude of addiction and toxicity might even be higher than you anticipated.

Frequent users report experiencing uncontrollable cravings for the drug even after a relatively short period of use. Since not every jurisdiction regulates the distribution, use, and sale of this drug and it might be available legally in some states, many people have an easier time accessing and using it.

The addictive properties of the drug, on the other hand, might lead you to lose touch with self-control and reality. This is because bath salts work on the brain's neural pathways and alter how your brain works, eventually causing addiction.

Bath Salt Overdose

If you do not get your addiction to bath salts treated in good time, you run the risk of suffering death or sustaining serious injuries. Other signs and symptoms of a bath salt overdose include:

  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney failure
  • Hyperthermia
  • Accidental injuries
  • Self-harm

Similarly, your pulse rate and blood pressure may increase with the general high level of agitation in biological functioning and behavior. This is because the drug creates a flood of adrenalin in volumes similar to those experienced during adverse and severe situations.

That said, bath salt toxicity lasts for hours and is considered to be a medical emergency because it increases the potential for harming others or yourself and severe systemic distress. Other signs of an overdose include:

  • Agitation
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Combativeness
  • Complaints of stomach, kidney area, and chest pain
  • Dangerous risk-taking
  • Delirium
  • Delusions
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme changes in body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Hostility
  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Sweating
  • Terror
  • Verbal aggression
  • Vomiting

You should call emergency medical services immediately the user stops breathing, collapse, experiences a seizure, or become a danger to themselves or anyone else in the same vicinity.

Bath Salt Withdrawal

Abusing bath salts on a regular basis might cause a variety of withdrawal symptoms. As a direct result, when you decide to come off synthetic cathinones, you are highly likely to suffer the following:

  • Amnesia
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased memory
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Intense cravings for bath salts
  • Irritability
  • Long albeit poor quality sleep
  • Nasal congestion
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Violent behavior

Bath Salt Dangers

The pharmacological activity of synthetic cathinones, specifically MDPV and related chemicals, can result in a variety of potentially severe and fatal adverse effects. The MDPV, for instance, might inhibit your norepinephrine-dopamine uptake system. As a direct result, you are likely to suffer CNS (central nervous system) stimulation.

Some of the side effects arising from abusing bath salts, to this end, include seizures, muscle tremors and spasms, vessel constriction, hyperthermia, and high blood pressure.

Taken at high doses, the drug also causes psychiatric and behavioral effects that may endanger the user. These include but are not limited to violent behavior, irritability, insomnia, agitation, paranoia, psychosis (delusions and hallucinations), and severe panic attacks.

Further, accidental death arising from overdose and drug abuse related suicides are highly likely among those who take bath salts. To counter this, patients suffering overdose need to be admitted into the ICU (intensive care unit) where doctors and nurses use restraints, antipsychotics, and intravenous sedatives to protect them and others in the vicinity from harm.

The drug has also been linked to Rhabdomyolysis because it might lead to the destruction of muscle fibers causing myoglobin (a protein) to be released into the bloodstream. This is likely to cause kidney damage.

As a stimulant, this drug also causes dilated pupils, high blood pressure, and rapid heart rate. These effects can increase your risk of suffering stroke and heart attack even if you have been using bath salts in the short term.

Other dangerous effects arising from abusing the drug include palpitations, headaches, and increased sexual stimulation which might cause you to engage in risky sexual activity.

Ultimately, however, the greatest danger arising from bath salt use is addiction. When you are addicted, you might lose your self-control and touch with reality. With time, the drug may even cause loss of bowel control.

Signs And Symptoms Of Bath Salt Abuse

There are several signs and symptoms of bath salt abuse and addiction. Whereas some of these signs may be easy to see, others will only develop after you use the drug in the long term.

Consider the following:

1. Physical Symptoms
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Chest pains
  • Chills
  • Death
  • Dizziness
  • Heart problems
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of coordination
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Ulcers
2. Psychological Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Severe paranoia
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood disorders
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Reduced need for sleep or food
  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal ideas
3. Behavioral Symptoms
  • Attempts at suicide
  • Combative behavior
  • Continued abuse of the drug despite its negative consequences
  • Craving the drug and using it compulsively
  • Erratic and bizarre behavior arising from hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Jittery behavior
  • Overheating and tearing clothing while trying to cool off
  • Seeking the drug out to experience its stimulating effects on the brain's reward center
  • Self-mutilation
  • Uncontrolled attacks on individuals in the vicinity
  • Unresponsiveness to commands to stop
  • Violent behavior

Treatment For Bath Salt Addiction

The best solution against bath salt use, abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction lies in rehabilitation. Treatment usually starts with detoxification to deal with the withdrawal symptoms arising from using the drug.

After that, you might check into a rehabilitation facility where you will undergo the following examples of behavioral therapy:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Motivational incentives

Currently, no medications exist for the treatment of synthetic cathinone abuse. However, the therapy you undergo - as well as frequent monitoring by a medical team of experts - may prove useful in healing you of your addiction.

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