Bath Salts Addiction

According to the NIDA, “The term ‘bath salts’ refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.”

Bath salts, which are also called synthetic cathinones or designer cathinones, are highly addictive stimulants and chemicals which are sold in different combinations and bought by individuals who want to get high. Bath salts have known dangerous side effects including hallucinations, panic attacks, violent behavior and muscle spasms. Those who abuse the drug recreationally have a strong likelihood of becoming addicted.

How are Bath Salts Abused?

According to the DOJ, “Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting.” There are other methods of abuse, such as taking them orally, smoking, or injecting them, but snorting is the most common. Bath salts, as stimulants, affect the brain in a way that is very similar to cocaine and amphetamine because they raise the dopamine in the brain to dangerous levels. In fact, bath salts are “at least 10 times more potent” than cocaine in the way they raise brain dopamine. This is why they are so addictive.

The NIDA states, “Because these products are relatively new to the drug abuse scene, our knowledge about their precise chemical composition and short- and long-term effects is limited.” However, we do have an idea of their extremely addictive nature and the use of them as a recreational drug that is commonly snorted.

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Signs of Bath Salts Abuse

People who abuse bath salts will not be far from bath salt addiction. Because the drug is so highly addictive, it can be very likely that a person becomes addicted after a few uses of the drug. This is why it can be so important to catch bath salt abuse and addiction early on.

Here are some signs of bath salts abuse:

Bath Salts Addiction

Agitation and anxiety are signs of bath salts abuse.

  • Using the street names or terms of the various versions of the drug, including:
    • Vanilla Sky
    • Lunar Wave
    • Blue Silk
    • Cloud Nine
    • Ivory Wave
    • Ocean Snow
    • Purple Wave
    • Red Dove
    • White Lightning
    • Scarface
    • Hurricane Charlie
  • Nosebleeds from snorting the drug
  • Lack of appetite
  • Agitation
  • Alertness
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Heart palpitations or racing heart
  • Chest pains
  • High blood pressure
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Those who are abusing the drug will likely exhibit many of these signs. Other, more severe signs of bath salts abuse, according to the DEA for the State of Maine, include:

  • Hallucinations (similar to those caused by MDMA or molly/ecstasy)
  • Increase in body temperature that is dangerous and occurs rapidly (similar to MDMA)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Malnutrition

When someone abuses bath salts, there is a strong possibility of one of these serious side effects occurring. Like other illicit drugs such as heroin, MDMA, and cocaine, there is a possibility that a person could die the first time they abuse bath salts. This is why these drugs are so dangerous.

Signs of Bath Salts Addiction

A person who becomes addicted to bath salts will be in even more danger. It will also be even harder to get that person to stop. People who are addicted to these drugs will exhibit the signs from above, and in addition, behave very differently.

Signs of bath salts addiction include:

  • A desire to do bath salts above anything else
  • A number of problems occurring in the person’s life as a result of bath salts abuse, including:
    • Health problems (kidney failure, hospitalization)
    • Work and school problems (getting fired, suspended, or otherwise formally disciplined as a result of bath salts abuse)
    • Relationship problems (breaking up or getting into severe fights with significant others or friends)
    • Family problems (becoming alienated from family members)
    • Legal problems (getting arrested, getting a DUI, or getting sued because of things done while on bath salts or as a result of buying, selling, or having bah salts)
  • Not wanting to spend time with those who do not abuse bath salts or other drugs
  • Experiencing severe cravings when unable to take the drug
  • Seeking out more of the drug, even if it means putting oneself in danger (drug-seeking behavior)
  • General apathy toward work, school, responsibilities, and all other aspects of life except bath salts use
  • Anger, hostility, or aggression when asked about bath salts use
  • Lying about bath salts use or hiding the drug(s) from others
  • An inability to stop taking bath salts even when it affects the person’s entire life
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Addiction to a substance is defined by the individual being unable to stop taking the drug. For someone who becomes addicted to bath salts, there would have once been a time where the use of the drug was voluntary but it will not be at this point. According to the NIDA, “addiction is a brain disease” where “seeking and consuming the drug becomes compulsive.” The individual will need help in the form of formal treatment and will not be able to quit abusing these drugs on their own.

Treatment for Bath Salts Addiction

According to the NIDA, “Unfortunately, bath salts have already been linked to an alarming number of ER visits across the country” (NIDA 2). The best possible solution is to get the individual to formal addiction treatment before this occurs. While there isn’t as much known about the effects and chemical makeup of bath salts as there are about other drugs, they are stimulants, and the individual will likely be treated for this addiction similarly to the way someone would be treated for MDMA, amphetamine, or cocaine addiction.

Behavioral treatments and careful monitoring of the person’s symptoms will be the most effective treatments. Some patients may be given medications in the event of withdrawal symptoms, especially if the person has been taking bath salts for an extended amount of time and experiences severe withdrawal.

The use of behavioral treatments is the best way to treat the addiction itself, and the individual will likely be exposed to one or more of the possible behavioral therapies for addiction, including:

With these possibilities, the patient can slowly learn how to change the way they think about their addiction as well as coping strategies for dealing with triggers and cravings after treatment.

Bath salts addiction is not only possible but can be extremely devastating. Recognizing the signs of bath salts abuse and addiction and getting the person into treatment can avoid more severe consequences and can even save someone’s life.

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