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What Does an Addiction to Bath Salts Look Like?

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People who use the drug bath salts, which should not be confused with salts made for bathing, may experience severe adverse effects, some of which are permanent. If you or a loved one has been experimenting with these drugs or binging on them, entering a bath salts addiction treatment center can help stop the urge to use and prevent long-term consequences.

What Are Bath Salts?

The active ingredient in bath salts is called mephedrone, a synthetic substance that is claimed to make users feel confident and energized and enhance musical experiences. However, it can also cause serious rage, severe confusion, hallucinations, and abnormally high body temperatures. Bath salts are synthetic cathinones that act similarly to cocaine, LSD, MDMA and methamphetamine. One package of these amphetamine-like drugs can contain several different substances, including mephedrone and MDPV. The powder is often marketed as a novelty bathing product, hence the name, but it is not intended for use in baths. Users purchase the drug from head shops, websites, independently owned convenience stores, and street dealers.

Did You Know?

Bath salts are marketed as a variety of household products, such as plant food and insect repellent. These labels make it more difficult for drug enforcement agencies to identify and intercept the drugs.

How They are Used and How They Affect the Body

Bath salts stimulate the central nervous system and cause a temporary increase in dopamine. The powder can be dissolved for intravenous injection, but it is usually snorted, swallowed or smoked. Bath salts are sometimes inserted rectally or vaginally. Users report intense euphoric effects, heightened empathy, an increased sense of alertness, a greater appreciation of music, heightened sexual stimulation, and an increased awareness of the senses from the high. People who become hooked on these effects may require bath salts addiction treatment to stop using.

Did You Know?

Although bath salts can be purchased online and from certain stores, they are now illegal and classified as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

Recreational Use vs. Addiction

The U.S. Department of Justice notes that surveyed users of these drugs reported a quick progression from occasional use to weekend use, and that a study in Scotland showed 4.4 percent of mephedrone users were using it daily. Many people experience strong cravings for bath salts once they wear off, and these cravings can result in drug binges that last for several days. Frequent binges indicate an addiction to bath salts. Other signs of an addiction include:

  • Missing school or work from drug use
  • Thinking obsessively about using bath salts
  • Spending a lot of time with other users instead of family and drug-free friends
  • Obtaining and continuing to use bath salts even after experiencing negative side effects or legal consequences
  • Fighting with loved ones about changes in behaviors from drug use

Potential Dangers Associated with Abuse

The potential negative effects of bath salts greatly outnumber the positive effects reported by users. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 6,138 calls regarding bath salts exposure were made in 2011, a significant increase from the 304 calls made in 2010. Negative side effects include:

  • Agitation
  • Heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Renal or liver failure
  • Profuse sweating and compulsive water drinking
  • High blood pressure
  • Compulsive teeth grinding
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Intense and prolonged panic attacks

Some users also experience extreme psychological or behavioral effects, including paranoia, hallucinations, suicidal ideations, self-mutilation, and violent outbursts.

Did You Know?

Long-term psychiatric care has been necessary for some users who experienced psychotic episodes from using bath salts, because the psychiatric symptoms did not diminish after the drugs wore off.

Getting Immediate Medical Help

A person who becomes psychotic or who experiences a severe physical reaction to bath salts requires immediate medical treatment. Without help, the episode could be fatal. Physicians can intervene to stabilize the person, who can then enter bath salts addiction treatment to detox and recover from the addiction. The initial medical intervention may include the use of benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, to reduce agitation and other physical and psychological effects of the bath salts.

Recovering From Addiction

Once the drugs are out of a person’s system from bath salts detox, he or she can undergo a psychological evaluation to help determine whether there is a preexisting condition influencing his or her substance abuse. Some people abuse substances to cope with depression, for example. The evaluation also looks for other triggers, such as stressful family situations and overwhelming schedules. Identifying stressors and other conditions helps with the creation of an individualized treatment plan.

If a person feels the need to use stimulants to keep up with school and work demands, for instance, one aspect of the treatment plan may address scheduling conflicts and encourage exercise and proper nutrition to increase the person’s natural energy levels. Treatment typically includes individual and group counseling in addition to behavior modification plans. Bath salts addiction treatment is available in inpatient treatment centers and in outpatient clinics. For help locating the best treatment centers near you, call .

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