Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts, are human-made stimulants chemically related to cathinone, a drug found in the khat plant.  Khat is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia, where some people chew its leaves for their mild stimulant effects.  Human-made versions of cathinone can be much stronger than the natural product and, in some cases, hazardous.  Synthetic cathinone products marketed as bath salts drug, should not be confused with products such as Epsom salt that people use during bathing.  These bathing products have no mind-altering ingredients. 

Synthetic cathinones usually take the form of a white or brown crystal-like powder and are sold in small plastic or foil packages labeled “not for human consumption.”  They can be labeled as bath salts, plant food, jewelry cleaner, or phone screen cleaner.  Synthetic cathinones are part of a group of drugs that concern public health officials called New Psychoactive Drugs (NPS). 

NPS are unregulated psychoactive mind-altering substances with no legitimate medical use and are made to copy the effects of controlled substances.  They are quickly introduced and reintroduced into the market to dodge or hinder law enforcement efforts to address their manufacture and sale.  Synthetic cathinones are marketed as cheap substitutes for other stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine.  Products sold as Molly often contain synthetic cathinones instead of MDMA.

Bath Salts Drug (Synthetic Cathinones) can cause severe withdrawal symptoms
Bath Salts (Synthetic Cathinones) can cause severe withdrawal symptoms

How Do Bath Salts Drug Affect The Brain?

Much is still unknown about how synthetic cathinones affect the human brain. However, researchers know that synthetic cathinones are chemically similar to amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA. For example, a study found that 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a standard synthetic cathinone, affects the brain like cocaine but is at least ten times more powerful. 

Effects Of Synthetic Cathinones Can Produce

  • Paranoia: extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Hallucinations: experiencing sensations and images that seem real but are not
  • Increased Friendliness
  • Increased Sex Drive
  • Panic Attacks
  • Excited Delirium: extreme agitation and violent behavior

An emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, a stimulant found naturally in the khat plant.  Examples of such chemicals include mephedrone, methylone, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). 

Common Slang Names 

  • Bath Salts
  • Bloom Blue Silk
  • Bubbles
  • Cloud Nine
  • Cosmic Blast
  • Wicked X

Commercial Names

No commercial uses for ingested “bath salts.” No relation to “Epsom salt,” sold as a bath product

Methods of Use

Swallowed, snorted, injected

DEA Schedule

Schedule I. The DEA has banned some formulations

Common Forms

White or brown crystalline powder is sold in small plastic or foil packages labeled “not for human consumption” and sometimes sold as jewelry cleaner, tablet, capsule, liquid.

Possible Health Effects

These are the following possible health effects of Synthetic Cathinones.


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Reduced Motor Control
  • Cloudy Thinking
  • Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
  • Euphoria
  • Increased Sociability and Sex Drive
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Violent Behavior
  • Sweating

Other Health Effects Of Bath Salts Drug

These are other health effects:  Raised heart rate, blood pressure, and chest pain are other health effects of synthetic cathinones.  People who experience delirium often suffer from dehydration, breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, and kidney failure. The worst outcomes are associated with snorting or needle injection.  Intoxication from synthetic cathinones has resulted in death.

Are Synthetic Cathinones Addictive?

Yes, synthetic cathinones can be addictive.  Animal studies show that rats will compulsively self-administer synthetic cathinones.  Human users have reported that the drugs trigger intense, uncontrollable urges to use the drug again.  Taking synthetic cathinones can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Tremors
  • Problems Sleeping

Treatment For Addiction To Synthetic Cathinones

Behavioral therapy will use to treat addiction to synthetic cathinones. 

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Contingency Management, or Motivational Incentives
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Behavioral Treatments Geared

As with all addictions, health care providers should screen for co-occurring mental health conditions. While there are no FDA-approved medicines for synthetic cathinone addiction, treatments are available for common co-occurring conditions.

We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through treatment for bath salts drugs, and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.


[1] NIDA – What are Bath Salts? Drug Facts, Effects, & Use | (

[2] National Institutes of Health – bath salts – National Institutes of Health Search Results (