On the streets, bath salts are known by many names, including Flakka, White Lightning and Vanilla Sky. When abused, they can do their share of damage in the body all by themselves, but when combined with alcohol, they can do far worse. This combination can even be fatal. Despite the many risks associated with bath salt and alcohol abuse, these substances are still combined every day. One of the main reasons is that users believe this fusion enhances the euphoric effects of the bath salts. 

Regardless of the reason for concurrent alcohol and bath salts abuse, it’s important to know the side effects associated with both as individual substances and as combined substances. Whether you’re involved in an alcohol abuse, bath salts abuse or both, there are people who can and want to help you or your loved one. 

What Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts, also known as synthetic cathinones, are psychoactive substances made from the leaves of khat plants. These herbal, powder-like stimulants are “cooked” and serve as an alternative to cocaine and amphetamines. To feel their mind-altering and euphoric effects, bath salts are either snorted or administered intravenously. They’re referred to as “bath salts” because of their granular appearance, but they should not be confused with true Epsom bath salts, which have no psychoactive ingredients.

In 2001 the DEA categorized several of the stimulants that are used to make bath salts as Schedule 1 substances. These substances have a high potential for abuse and have no medical treatment use in the U.S. When abused, bath salts can result in a variety of side effects, just like alcohol can. There are several synthetic variations of these cathinones, which can can be stronger than others, and all can result in very dangerous side effects.

What are the Side Effects of Bath Salts and Alcohol?

Bath salts are abused because of their stimulating and mind-altering effects, including amplifying perception, mood, thought and behavior. Alcohol, on the other hand, is categorized as a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. It can also alter perceptions, but in a different way than bath salts. 

Bath salts and alcohol are two substances that can have a variety of negative side effects when abused alone. Some of these effects are short term and last a few hours. Other effects can last much longer and even be irreversible, such as throat cancer from repeated alcohol abuse. The next section lists some of the common short-term and long-term side effects of bath salts and alcohol abuse.

Side Effect of Bath Salts Abuse

  • Jittery behavior and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia and panic attacks
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Erratic behavior, including hallucinations

Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse

  • Nausea
  • Impaired judgement
  • Cancer (mouth, esophagus, throat, etc.)
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Steatosis 
  • Headache 
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmias 

Dangers of Mixing Bath Salts and Alcohol

Mixing bath salts with alcohol is never a good idea. This combination essentially increases the negative side effects of abuse of both substances. In the case of bath salts and alcohol, it’s important to keep in mind that these two substances are on opposite ends of the drug spectrum. One is a stimulant (bath salts), and the other is a depressant (alcohol). Therefore, when these two substances are combined in the body, it sends conflicting messages, which can result in unpredictable effects. 

As with any substance abuse case, alcohol and bath salt abuse can be fatal. The following are some of the other known risks associated with mixing these two substances:

  • Muscle tension
  • Psychosis
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Severe headaches
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Involuntary movements

Bath salt and alcohol abuse have landed thousands of people in the hospital in recent years. In fact, SAMHSA reported that 23,000 emergency room visits were made by bath salts users in 2011. Of those visits, more than 65% included an additional substance, such as alcohol.

Treatment for Bath Salts and Alcohol

Bath salt and alcohol abuse is a serious matter, and help is available for you or your loved one. If you’re currently mixing bath salts with alcohol, or any other substance, and you know you need to talk to someone about it, The Recovery Village is that someone. We want to help you better understand the dangers involved while getting you on the road to recovery. 

Substance abuse does not have to be part of your life. Make it a part of your past. There are various treatment programs available at centers throughout the country. So take the bold step of calling the number below to speak with one of our coordination specialists. You’ll be glad you did.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.