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What Are Bath Salts?

4 minute read

A dangerous and disturbing trend in recent years, bath salt abuse is popular among teens and young adults. The synthetic drug known as bath salts has nothing to do with the aromatic crystals you use in bath water. Bath salts are designer drugs derived from a synthetic form of cathinone, which comes from the Khat plant. Bath salts are classified as a Schedule I drug by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule I drugs have no known medical use and a high potential for abuse. In 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers named bath salts as an “emerging public health threat.”

Bath salts have a reputation on the streets as a cheaper, more accessible form of drugs like LSD, cocaine, meth, and Molly (MDMA). The name came about as a way to skirt federal laws. Synthetic cathinones (bath salts) are crumbly, dissolvable, and have a slight odor. Like “real” bath salts, the drug is contained in packaging that reads, “Not for human consumption.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people abuse bath salts to try to achieve a high they describe as:

  • Feeling “on” and more at ease socially
  • An enhanced sex drive
  • Lowered inhibition
  • More energy

The temporary high of abusing bath salts can also bring uncomfortable and serious short-term effects and long-term effects.

Street Names for Bath Salts

Bath salts are illegal drugs that go by a number of names including the following:

  • Plant Food
  • Blue Silk
  • White Dove
  • White Lightning
  • Flakka
  • Super Coke
  • Bloom
  • Tranquility
  • Cloud Nine
  • Zoom
  • Lunar Wave
  • Magic
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Ivory Wave
  • Scarface

What Are the Signs of Bath Salt Abuse?

Bath salt abusers may experience some of the following symptoms and warning signs related to cathinone use:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nosebleeds
  • Insomnia
  • Violent behavior
  • Kidney failure
  • Acute psychosis
  • Dehydration

Are Bath Salts Addictive?

With regular abuse, bath salts can be addictive. One of the effects of bath salt intoxication is an overstimulation of dopamine, which is a “feel-good” chemical in your brain. Any substance that impacts the brain in this way has potential for abuse, addiction, and adverse effects. Bath salts can be addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms when you discontinue the drug. Users swallow, snort, or inject the drug. The most dangerous ways to use bath salts are through needle injection and snorting. Specialized substance abuse and mental health treatment can help you begin repairing the physical and psychological damage of addiction and stimulant effects.

Why Are Bath Salts Dangerous?

Bath salts’ effects are dangerous for a number of reasons. One hazard of synthetic stimulant drugs like bath salts is that makers keep altering the active ingredients to get around drug laws. Once one ingredient is banned, they tweak its composition or find a new one to take its place — perhaps one that’s even more dangerous than the previous. Ingredients in bath salts are unpredictable, so taking bath salts is always a risk. For instance, if bath salts are cut with the deadly substance fentanyl, which finds its way into many street drugs today, you are at high risk for overdose.

The process for getting a substance banned is often long and complex, so it’s hard for lawmakers to stay on top of the evolving drug, its makers, and drug abusers. Bath salts fall into the category, “New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)”, a designation by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to indicate a substance poses a significant risk to public health and challenges drug policy.

Bath salts can cause a number of potentially serious side effects. Bath salts users are at risk for:

  • Dehydration which can lead to seizures, heart attack, and organ failure.
  • Damage to nerve endings and neurotransmitters in the brain, which can lead to memory loss, and poor concentration, learning, speaking, and understanding.
  • Psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, panic, and severe agitation that can lead to violent behaviors.

Do You Need Addiction Treatment for Bath Salts?

Because some people who abuse bath salts may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, medical detox could be necessary. This process allows you to remove toxins from your body safely with help from medical professionals.

As with any type of drug addiction, professional treatment is necessary to help prevent relapse. If you don’t address the reasons behind your substance abuse, the pull to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate will persist. Keys to long-term recovery include:

  • Evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders
  • Attention to trauma and other factors driving addiction
  • Learning healthy ways to cope with triggers to use drugs and alcohol
  • Building a strong support system in sobriety
  • These are all main components of addiction treatment.

Ready to Get Help?

Addiction doesn’t go away on its own. Recovery is possible and more rewarding than you can imagine right now. Get the help you need to take back your life and build a better one. Footprints to Recovery provides evidence-based addiction and behavioral health care that works. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation.


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