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Side Effects of Bath Salts

Short and Long-Term Effects of Bath Slats, Dangers, Addiction & Bath Salts Rehab Treatment

How You Become Addicted to Bath Salts?

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). 

side effects of bath salts
Prolonged use of this drug can cause side effects of bath salts like agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal behavior.

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. These psychoactive and mind-altering properties make it more likely for someone to become addicted to bath salts.

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What are the Effects of Bath Salts?

Although some forms of synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice, and synthetic cathinones have been outlawed at the federal level, manufacturers of these drugs change the chemical formulas routinely to bypass state and federal law. Bath salts once referred to a specific formula for synthetic cathinones – stimulants that are chemically similar to cocaine or methamphetamines – but now, the term has become a generalization for many new synthetic cathinones that are sold in gas stations, head shops, and other, similar retail outlets all over the US. These drugs are usually referred to as NPS or new psychoactive substances.

Bath salts are unpredictable since their chemistry always changes. The foil packages feature a warning: not for human consumption. While this is one of many ways the drugs get around import and retail laws, it is not far from the truth. Severe, dangerous side effects are more likely when a drug has no consistent dose and is not a consistent chemical formula. People who use bath salts even once or twice are at risk of serious harm.

side effects of bath salts
The psychoactive and mind-altering properties make it more likely for someone to become addicted to bath salts.

Short-Term Effects of Bath Salts

The way synthetic cathinones affect the brain, releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, is only beginning to be understood. Because synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids are very new, and the chemical formulas change frequently, research into their chemistry is not conclusive. However, the effects of bath salts are often very apparent. While a person is high on bath salts, psychoactive effects include:

  • Paranoia and extreme anxiety
  • Excited delirium: agitation or violent behavior toward oneself or others
  • Increased sociability, similar to cocaine’s effects
  • Increased sex drive, similar to amphetamine’s effects
  • Hallucinations

The combination of anxiety, delirium, and hallucinations has led many people to cause harm to themselves or others while they were on bath salts. Initially, the person may experience pleasure or euphoria since synthetic cathinones do release dopamine; however, for most people, this experience rapidly fades, as the drug leads to intense anxiety. The amount of dopamine released by the brain is 10 times greater than that released by cocaine, and dopamine is responsible for hallucinations.

Physical side effects can vary but usually include:

  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Shaking and twitching muscles
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating, with an unusual body odor

While many people wonder why a person would take a drug that is infamous for the damage it causes, these drugs are cheap and often legal. Rather than finding a dealer and paying thousands of dollars, a person can go to a corner store and spend less than $10. However, the ease and price cannot justify the ultimate dangers of consuming these chemicals.

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Searching for an Accredited Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers in Near You?

Even if you have failed previously and relapsed, or are in the middle of a difficult crisis, we stand ready to support you. Our trusted behavioral health specialists will not give up on you. When you feel ready or just want someone to speak to about therapy alternatives to change your life call us. Even if we cannot assist you, we will lead you to wherever you can get support. There is no obligation. Call our hotline today.

Long-Term Effects of Bath Salts

Although bath salts are just beginning to be understood, researchers suspect that the drugs are highly addictive because of their rapid onset, the amount of dopamine released, and the body’s quick dependence on the chemical. Withdrawal symptoms are not deadly, but they can be intense. They include:

  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Ongoing paranoia

People who are prone to mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, psychosis, and schizophrenia are at greater risk for triggering these conditions if they use bath salts even once. The drugs also seriously damage the body when used repeatedly. Short-term physical effects that are repeated can drastically harm organ systems. This damage includes:

  • Rhabdomyolysis: the breakdown of skeletal muscles that then poison the kidneys, leading to physical weakness and kidney failure
  • Damage to the teeth and jaw from grinding
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system
  • Muscle injury
  • Infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Debilitation from accidental self-harm

Side Effects of Bath Salts

Can Bath Salts Get You High?

Users usually snort the drug up the nose, but it can also be injected, smoked, swallowed, or used rectally. Toxic doses for the newer synthetic cathinones such as bath salts have not yet been determined, and doses can be variable due to the illegal nature of the drug. There is a great risk for overdose because packages may contain up to 500 milligrams. If ingested orally, absorption is rapid with a peak “rush” at 1.5 hours, the effect lasting 3 to 4 hours, then a hard “crash”. The total experience may last upwards of 8 hours or longer. Snorting and injecting the drug can be especially hazardous.

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Bath Salts Psychosis

Since bath salts are unpredictable for a lot of reasons, it is easy to take too much and overdose. When a person overdoses on bath salts, their body temperature rises to dangerous levels, often well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They are extremely agitated, fearful, delirious, and violent, which makes them hard to get to a hospital for treatment. Blood pressure and heart rate can rise to dangerous levels, possibly leading to a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or stroke. High body temperature and agitation can also cause seizures. The person may stop breathing suddenly. There were 23,000 emergency room visits in 2011 alone due to consumption of bath salts.

Fortunately, the number of people taking bath salts is declining because reports of the dangers of synthetic cathinones are very disturbing. In 2011, for example, there were 6,000 calls to the poison control line about bath salts exposure; in 2015, that number was just 500.

Toxicity, or overdose, is the leading cause of death from synthetic cathinones. However, death from accident or self-harm due to induced psychosis is also associated with the drugs. While many reports, like the alleged “zombie” drug phenomenon, focus on harm done to others while a person is intoxicated on bath salts, self-harm is just as likely when a person experiences psychosis from the drug. They could even attempt suicide due to a combination of psychosis and depression. This kind of mental health condition is not considered an overdose, but it is extremely dangerous and prevalent among people who abuse bath salts.

side effects of bath salts
Since bath salts are unpredictable for a lot of reasons, it is easy to take too much and overdose.

Bath Salts Paranoia

Bath salts are a synthetic derivative of the naturally-occurring stimulant cathinone; they are a ‘legal’ alternative to stimulants like meth, ecstasy and cocaine. Like cocaine and ecstasy, bath salts produce stimulatory effects, increasing euphoria and alertness at low doses. But prolonged use can cause adverse effects like agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal behavior.

Bath Salts Withdrawal

Over time, it’s possible to develop a dependence on the drug as the brain gets used to the extra stimulus. In addition to this, your limbic system (our reward center) will start learning to crave its euphoric effects. If you stop using MDPV or bath salts abruptly, out of necessity, or you don’t have access to the drug, it’s possible that you’ll start to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. A lack of dopamine causes most stimulant withdrawal symptoms. The brain will struggle to produce dopamine at an average rate after using the drug, and withdrawal symptoms are due to diminished dopamine levels in our brain.

Symptoms of bath salts withdrawal may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Slow thinking
  • Intense cravings
  • Tremors
  • Feelings of foggy-headedness
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle aches
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to focus

Stimulant withdrawal isn’t considered to be deadly, but medical complications can arise in certain circumstances. Severe depression and suicidal thoughts are dangerous, and if you are planning on stopping bath salts, you must forego the process with medical help.

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment

These are different behavioral therapies that are used to treat addiction to synthetic cathinones:

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.

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Sources

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

[2] National Institutes of Health – bath salts – National Institutes of Health Search Results (nih.gov)

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