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Bath salts, also known as synthetic cathinones, are addictive stimulant drugs that can have harmful consequences on your mental and physical health. Bath salts addiction—as with many other substance use disorders—can affect an individual’s brain and behavior and create an inability to control or stop using.1 However, help is available for anyone seeking recovery. Treatment for addiction to bath salts is available in the form of inpatient and outpatient care and can help an individual learn to live a sober life.
In this Article:
Signs You May Need Bath Salt Addiction Treatment
Bath salts are Schedule I controlled substances, which means they have no recognized medical use and a significant potential for misuse and addiction, as indicated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).2 People who use synthetic cathinones can develop a physiological dependence and addiction, a compulsive pattern of use, despite negative consequences. Individuals have reported uncontrollable urges to repeatedly use bath salts.3
Some signs of bath salt use may include dangerous effects of use, such as:3
- Sleep issues
- Panic attacks
- Extreme agitation and violent behavior
- Chest pain
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Suicidal thoughts/attempts
If you or someone you know uses bath salts and you suspect a substance use disorder, here are some of the signs of a bath salt addiction:4
- Using bath salts in larger amounts or for a longer duration than intended
- Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from bath salt use
- Failing to control or reduce use
- Experiencing a strong desire to use bath salts
- Neglecting work or home responsibilities to use bath salts
- Experiencing social and interpersonal problems due to bath salts use
- Continuing to use bath salts despite the knowledge that use is causing or exacerbating physical or psychological issues
- Using bath salts in dangerous situations
- Needing larger amounts of bath salts to achieve the desired effect (tolerance)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using bath salts (dependence)
If you want to seek help for yourself or someone you know, give our 24/7 helpline a call at 800-926-9037 (Who Answers?) . One of our treatment support specialists can help you find a rehab that meets your needs.
Types of Treatment for Bath Salt Addiction
If you are experiencing an addiction to bath salts and want to stop using, there are many types of treatment programs available, with the main settings being inpatient and outpatient. And before you attend addiction treatment, detox can help you withdraw from bath salts safely and comfortably.
Professional detox can help manage your bath salts withdrawal symptoms and cravings under the supervision of a medical team. Medical oversight can ensure your safety throughout the process by preventing or treating any emergencies that may arise during withdrawal. Bath salts detox helps you achieve a medically-stable, substance-free state before you begin addiction treatment. Unlike inpatient or outpatient treatment, detox is not a form of treatment; rather, it is the first step on the continuum of care.5
Some essential reasons to seek bath salts detox include:5
- 24-hour medical monitoring
- Availability of necessary medications
- Alleviation of withdrawal symptoms
- Supportive environment
A physician may prescribe medications to reduce agitation that could lead to aggressive and self-harming behavior.
The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with bath salt addiction include:3
- Poor memory or lack of concentration
One of the main treatment settings for bath salts addiction treatment is inpatient rehab, which is the most intensive treatment option. You live at the facility for the duration of the rehab program, which may last anywhere from 30-90 days, although you may stay longer if needed. Many people benefit from the structure of an inpatient rehab and find it easier to focus on their recovery without daily distractions and triggers.
Treatment philosophies and rules vary from rehab to rehab, but most programs utilize a variety of treatment services and offerings, such as:
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Family counseling
- Relapse prevention classes
- Drug education classes
- Support group meetings
- Aftercare planning
Inpatient treatment for bath salt addiction may be especially helpful for those who have a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disorder. Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnoses, require comprehensive and integrated care that fully addresses both conditions.
Some inpatient treatment programs offer a holistic treatment approach that focuses on the whole person and provides alternative and complementary services, such as meditation or yoga. There are also luxury treatment programs set in a resort-like area and integrate holistic offerings, such as recreational activities or nutritional counseling.6 While holistic treatment has increased in usage, it is not considered a standard treatment approach—instead, it is often combined with traditional treatment modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
You may benefit more from inpatient treatment for bath salts addiction if you have significant issues that could place you at higher risk for relapse.7 An an inpatient treatment program may be a good option for you if you have:
- A severe bath salts addiction
- A polysubstance addiction
- A dual diagnosis
- A lack of a support system at home
- Previously dropped out of an outpatient program
- A co-occurring medical condition
Outpatient bath salt addiction treatment involves living at home and attending treatment sessions during the day. It is less intensive and structured than inpatient treatment since you are immersed in your everyday environment and do not have 24/7 supervision and care. However, it can be a great option if you have scheduling needs that require flexible treatment options and if you have:7
- A mild bath salt addiction
- A high level of motivation to achieve sobriety
- An already established support system
- A desire to keep treatment costs down
Outpatient treatment occurs at varying intensities, with partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs offering a higher level of care than a standard outpatient program, which may include therapy for just one or two days per week.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are considered the most intensive outpatient rehab options. They provide the most structure and the most services during treatment. They may include five to seven sessions per week for a certain number of hours each day. These types of programs work well for those who need additional structure and may have previously relapsed following treatment.8
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a step down from partial hospitalization programs but are still more intensive than standard outpatient care. The IOP treatment team creates an individualized treatment plan containing specific goals toward which the person works. A patient’s requirements and commitments decrease over time as they meet their goals. An IOP typically offers frequent sessions in the evening and during the day to accommodate different schedule requirements.8 This type of program may work for a person with a less severe addiction or a stronger support system.
Therapies for Bath Salt Addiction Treatment
Treatment options for addiction to bath salts include may include several different types of therapies, typically included in an inpatient program, with the exception of contingency management and motivational enhancement therapy, which are used in PHPs and IOPs. Some of the most common therapies and modalities for bath salt addiction include:9
- Group therapy: Therapy in a group format provides you the opportunity to connect with others struggling with a bath salt addiction. You can talk about your experiences and hear from others about their challenges. The bonds you form with fellow participants can be a strong factor in learning new ways to cope while in a safe environment.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Your thought processes play a vital role in shaping your emotions and responses to a situation. With CBT, you learn to identify maladaptive thoughts that have led to using bath salts. CBT is a prime means of learning about triggers and how to respond to them in a healthy way.
- Contingency management: This behavioral technique reinforces positive, adaptive behavior. The rewards focus on living a sober life by strengthening positive actions in treatment related to group attendance or passing a drug test.
- Motivational enhancement therapy: Resources and motivation provide you a recovery strategy built on actionable goals that help you measure your progress in specific behaviors in recovery.
- Educational programs: You can gain knowledge and identify recovery resources to help you maintain sobriety. These programs provide educational information on a variety of topics like the effects of bath salt use on the body and the brain.
- Recreational therapy: This allows you to learn how to use recreation and activities to live a drug-free life.
- 12-step programs: Although not a therapy, a 12-step program can help you learn to cope and develop new and effective habits without the use of bath salts. A support group where you can share your experience and find validation for your feelings can be a great resource.
A bath salt addiction treatment program may combine traditional interventions with non-traditional ones, such as a holistic approaches that aim at healing the whole person, their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Some of the common holistic approaches include:6
- Meditation: This technique helps you learn to focus, increase your attention and awareness, and develop your ability to relax.
- Yoga: This practice involves breathing, physical poses, and meditation to increase relaxation.
- Acupuncture: This method involves placing needles in areas of the ear linked to other parts of the body and can stimulate healing.
- Exercise: Developing an exercise routine can be beneficial for physical and mental health, and can also provide you with a new, joyful activity.
- Nutritional guidance: This involves learning about the importance of nutrition in maintaining a healthy life balance and for restoring your body’s nutritional levels, which is essential for leading a sober life.
- Biofeedback: This technique uses feedback to develop increased control of body functions, such as heart rate and breathing rate.
Recovery Support After Treatment
A bath salt addiction treatment program can provide you with a solid foundation for recovery, but the journey doesn’t end once you complete your program. You now have the tools to remain sober, but aftercare is an essential part of recovery. Just as treatment is an individualized process, so is aftercare—you’ll want to choose relapse prevention options that work best for you.
You may choose to transition into a sober living home, especially if you are unable to return to your own home or do not have a support system in place. In addition to continuing involvement with a 12-step program, non-12-step programs like SMART Recovery focus on behavioral changes and learning new coping skills in living a balanced life.10 Or, if you have just finished an inpatient program and still want professional support, you could transition into step-down care in the form of outpatient treatment.
Regardless of which type of treatment you have completed, knowing you are not alone can help prevent relapse. There is hope if you take advantage of the various available treatments, whether that means an inpatient or outpatient program. Help is available whenever you need treatment for an addiction to bath salts. If you or a loved one is experiencing a bath salt addiction, please call 800-926-9037 (Who Answers?) to find a rehab in your area.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, June 6). Understanding drug use and addiction DrugFacts
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration (2018, June 10). Drug scheduling.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, July 6). Synthetic cathinones (“Bath Salts”) DrugFacts.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment: A Treatment Improvement Protocol
- Waletzky, L.R. & Handel, M.J. (n.d.). Holistic Approach to the Addiction Recovery Process.
- Volkow, N. D. (2011). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (2nd Ed.). United States: DIANE Publishing Company.
- McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D.R., Dougherty, R.H., Daniels, A.S., Ghose, A.S., Delphin-Rittmon, M.E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), 65(6), 718-726.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, June 1). Behavioral therapies.
- Hester, R. K., Lenberg, K. L., Campbell, W., & Delaney, H. D. (2013). Overcoming addictions, a web-based application, and SMART Recovery, an online and in-person mutual help group for problem drinkers, part 1: three-month outcomes of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(7), 134.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Counselor’s treatment manual.