While you might think of bath salts as a product you use in your bath tub, they can also refer to an illegal drug that people use to get high. It is not the same product nor is it used for bathing, but it can be sold in stores for other purposes, making it easy to acquire. This dangerous drug is a growing trend in some areas.
Where Do Bath Salts Come From?
Known as synthetic cathinones, bath salts is the common name for the drugs created by people to mimic the effects of natural cathinones, which are found in the khat plant from East Africa and the southern part of Arabia.
Bath salts are part of the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) which are mind-altering drugs. The NPS are developed to mimic illegal drugs and their effects.
They are made to replace cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs as a cheaper alternative.
Bath salts or synthetic cathinones are either a brown or white powder. They are often sold in small foil and plastic packages with the labeling “not for human consumption.” They may be used as plant food, a phone screen cleaner or jewelry cleaner in stores. They can also be sold under various names, which include the following:
- Cloud Nine
- Vanilla Sky
- White Lightning
- Lunar Wave
There are many other brands as well. They can be purchased over the internet now too, and this is one of the most popular ways to sell and to obtain the drug. These drugs are developed with other active ingredients in addition to cathinones to prevent them from being made illegal. However, many of the ingredients used in bath salts have been deemed illegal and listed as Schedule I Drugs.
One of the issues with this type of drug is the availability of new combinations. Even when some of the substances are banned, the chemists just turn to new ingredients to create these bath salts.
Bath Salts Usage
To use bath salts, a person may swallow them in pill form, snort or smoke them in power or inject them. Injection and snorting creates a more potent effect.
People using bath salts are generally younger with many of them being in their late teens and early 20s. Both men and women obtain bath salts and use them at least weekly. Because of their easy accessibility and low cost, more people are turning to them over other more expensive illegal substances.
Areas where they have been banned have shown a decline in emergency room visits due to their use.
How Bath Salts Affect the Mind
Because synthetic cathinones are similar chemically to other drugs, they have a similar effect. They can cause depression, anxiety and other results.
They raise the person’s blood pressure and heart rate and increase energy, which is one reason people take them. They can also cause agitation.
Since they are created by humans rather than occurring naturally like other drugs, they are often more powerful. This fact also makes them more dangerous.
MDPV, which is the 3,4-methylenedioxyprovaleroine chemical, is similar to cocaine. It is also the most common substance found in people who come into hospital emergency rooms and is known as Molly.
One reason for this issue is because it is mixed with other dangerous substances, which cause overdosing or major side effects.
Bath salts cause a variety of effects, which include the following:
- Paranoia – distrust of others and extreme ideas that are unreasonable
- Hallucinations – images and feelings that appear real
- Panic attacks
- Excited delirium – violent actions and severe agitation
- Kidney failure
Some of these symptoms are the same as with other drugs, which is to be expected since they mimic other illegal substances. People who take bath salts are at a higher risk for many serious health issues, including stroke and mood disorders. Using bath salts can even lead to death, which most often happens when the substance is injected or snorted. Molly pills also contain a higher risk because of harmful substances that are found in the drug.
People who use bath salts have more energy for two to four hours after use, and they may show signs of euphoria. As they come down, they may feel lifeless and depressed for several hours or it may even last for several days.
Withdrawal Symptoms for Bath Salts
Bath salts become addictive because the person wishes to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. They experience uncontrollable cravings, which lead them to use more of the drug. Once they are addicted and attempt to stop taking the drug, they may experience a combination of the following symptoms:
Long-term use of bath salts may lead to failure of the liver, seizures, swelling of the brain and a heart attack. The person may also experience a higher risk for suicide during this time or self-mutilation. Another concern is that it may lead to violence against others.
Treatment for Bath Salts Addiction
Just like with any other addictive drug, the person may need treatment to help them stop using synthetic cathinones. The addict can attend inpatient or outpatient rehab at a facility which treats for this type of addiction.
It can be difficult to determine if someone is addicted to bath salts, but it is often similar to other drugs. The person uses bath salts at the expense of maintaining other obligations. They skip out on social activities in order to use them, and they have an increased tolerance requiring a higher frequency of use.
As with any drug addiction, detoxification must be the first step. The person must stop taking the drugs before treatment can begin. A Bath Salts Detox Program is recommended, and this may include taking medications to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. Detox medications can help alleviate nausea and insomnia as well as helping manage anxiety and agitation.
Three aspects of treatment are utilized in bath salts disorder. They include abstinence to help them learn how to function without the drug, relapse prevention to help them deal with cravings and triggers and rehabilitation to enable them to rebuild their lives.
If a person has a severe addiction or an addiction along with a mental illness, they may require inpatient rehab for treatment. The treatment plan may consist of one or more of the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Motivational incentives
No medication is available for the treatment of bath salts addiction, but medications may be available to address any mental disorder the person has. Ongoing treatment in the form of outpatient therapy may be necessary to help the person avoid relapse in the future. If the person has been suffering from bath salts addiction for a long time, they may need help building a new life. Treatment programs may assist in creating a resume, conducting practice interviews and developing job skills to help the person transition into regular life.
The rate of use for bath salts is continuing to increase. While only slightly over 300 calls from poison control centers came in during 2010, the number increased in 2011 to 6000 just a year later. Even though the numbers were down in recent years, concern is still high for the use of bath salts as it spreads across the country.
One aspect of treatment for bath salts is educating family of the addict on these designer drugs. Many people are not aware of them, and they don’t know how easy they are to access or what they can do. Continued support from family and friends as well as from professional therapy increases the likelihood that the person will recover and be able to enjoy a normal life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to Bath Salts or any other substance, please call Lighthouse Treatment Center today for help. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. Help is available now.