Bath salts is the name for the drug class called synthetic cathinones, which includes methylone, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone. These human-made substances are similar to cathinone, a stimulant produced from the khat plant. While consuming natural cathinone has mild effects, the synthetic variations can be much stronger and generate dangerous side effects. Many people replace cocaine, amphetamine or ecstasy with bath salts because the drug is a cheaper alternative and provides similar effects.
The term “bath salts” comes from their granular or crystalline appearance, mimicking actual bath salts. The drug is illegal and sold under a number of street names: Bliss, Cloud Nine, Lunar or Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, and White Lightning, to name a few.
Bath salts are less notorious than cocaine or ecstasy but the drug is still heavily misused, highly addictive and potentially dangerous. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that bath salts were the cause of nearly 23,000 emergency room visits in 2011. The drug gives people an upbeat and euphoric feeling by firing off dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. However, bath salts sometimes vary in components and potency due to being produced illegally, and the drug can have dangerous side effects, including:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Lack of appetite or sleep
- Increased temperature or chills
- Chest and kidney pain
- Agitated or aggressive behavior
Not all effects of taking bath salts are dangerous, but they are signs to recognize if someone is misusing the drug. Other common physical traits of people who are addicted to bath salts include:
- Teeth grinding
- Higher-than-normal sex drive
- Overactive or over-responsive reflexes
- Unusual friendliness
- Delusions or confusion
The excited and pleasing state produced from consuming bath salts can become psychologically addictive for people, in addiction to physical addiction that often builds when people take any drug. As people experience the “high” associated with bath salts more and more, they will have a stronger desire to return to the state and feel they need it to achieve happiness. Studies have backed this up, noticing that an increase in dopamine transmissions in the brain creates a higher potential for addiction.
If you or someone you know is addicted to bath salts, seek medical help immediately. Bath salts addiction treatment is available in every state due to how popular the drug is, and there are programs specifically designed to help people stop taking bath salts.
The first step to bath salts addiction treatment is recognizing when someone has misused the drug. Prolonged or extreme misuse can worsen the dangerous effects of bath salts and also create more health risks, including dehydration and kidney failure. Other signs that someone might be addicted to bath salts include:
- Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances
- Twitching or involuntary muscle movement
- Suicidal thoughts
Once the addiction to bath salts is realized, seeking treatment is the next step. Finding the perfect bath salts addiction treatment can be a challenging part of the process, especially for people who seek treatment nearby. There are options in each state for drug addiction treatment, but not all rehab centers will offer the full continuum of care provided by certain facilities.
To provide as many people the most extensive addiction treatment possible, The Recovery Village has facilities in each region of the United States. Most people are conveniently located to one of The Recovery Village’s rehabilitation centers and can take the proper steps toward a healthier life. The Recovery Village has treatment centers in five states:
Depending on a person’s individual needs, severity of bath salts addiction and personal characteristics, they might need a specific location for the best-possible treatment.
When people talk about the bath salts treatment protocol, they are referring to the process for rehabilitation. Reputable rehabilitation centers will provide an assessment to determine the proper levels of care for an individual’s substance use disorder and then begin detoxification, which involves the natural removal of the drug from a person’s system. This is done either through the cold turkey approach — abruptly stopping all dosage — or slowly tapering off the client by minimizing the dosage or providing replacement medications.
Once detoxification is complete, clients often move to any number of levels of care most commonly provided by rehabilitation centers:
- Hospitalization and stabilization
- Inpatient rehabilitation
- Outpatient rehabilitation
- Aftercare planning and sober living
Detoxification is often when most people experience withdrawal symptoms, which are the effects of no longer taking a drug. For people addicted to bath salts, abruptly discontinuing the drug can bring on severe withdrawal symptoms and make the rehabilitation process feel daunting and even impossible to overcome. The most common withdrawal symptoms associated to bath salts addiction include:
- Worsening memory or lack of concentration
Depression can be extremely severe during withdrawal because of the effects of taking bath salts. Since the drug produces a euphoric high, the body begins to rely on the drug to produce feelings of happiness. Not having a consistent dosage can result in the body not firing off enough dopamine and serotonin, which can cause prolonged feelings of sadness or fatigue. Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon during detoxification and withdrawal from stimulants such as bath salts, and it’s important to not attempt this stage of rehabilitation alone.
When people undergo detoxification from bath salts addiction and experience withdrawal symptoms, medical professionals may use certain treatments to alleviate discomfort and increase the chances of success. Certain medical treatments, including replacement medications, can lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Other treatment options involve tapering off bath salts and other stimulants to avoid a significant change and readjustment for a person’s body.
During detoxification, having constant medical attention is important to ensure a safe detoxification. Attempting an at-home detox can lead to setbacks either during detox or later on in the recovery process. People who forego seeking a reputable medical detox facility often experience recurring usage of bath salts days, weeks or even months after starting the rehab process. Some of the main reasons to seek medical treatment rather than attempting detox alone include:
- 24-hour medical attention
- Availability of necessary medications
- Maximum comfort
- Attempts to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
- Supportive environment
The Recovery Village can help people find a safe and effective detox program to begin their treatment for bath salts. Making this important first step gives people the foundation needed to overcome future obstacles and puts them closer to an addiction-free life.
Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation often follows the detoxification stage. When people enroll in a rehab facility for inpatient rehab, they will experience the most intensive aspect of the rehab program. This stage can include individual and group counseling sessions, recreational therapy options such as exercise, art classes, outdoor activities and more. People often will meet others suffering from substance use disorder and find a social support group to help cope with their addictions.
In addition to drug rehab, clients can address any co-occurring disordersthey may have, as these illnesses can be the root cause of substance use disorder. Additionally, someone’s substance use disorder could create a new mental illness for that person. If people misuse bath salts, they may lose their appetite and develop an eating disorder. Depression also is common because the brain has to re-adjust to no longer having bath salts to help it fire off dopamine, which is a natural chemical that helps people feel happy. Since anxiety is a common withdrawal symptom of bath salts, some people have been known to develop an anxiety disorder after misusing the stimulant. Other common co-occurring disorders that could result or be the cause of an addiction to bath salts include:
- Severe mood swings
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
In a clinical setting, such as one of The Recovery Village’s facilities, clients can learn coping mechanisms and continue receiving treatment and medications for both substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.
Before someone chooses a rehab center for bath salts addiction, it’s wise to research what each facility offers and ensure that you or your loved one receives the best possible care. Not every rehab facility is the same, and some do not offer a full continuum of care or the levels of treatment offered at others.
To avoid going through the treatment process alone, call The Recovery Village to learn more about the steps needed to begin this process. An associate will explain what happens next and offer a free, confidential assessment to determine the proper levels of care needed to treat the bath salts addiction.
The Recovery Village also provides a 24-hour bath salts hotline, which is a free and confidential service designated for people who are struggling with addiction to this substance. People seeking help for others also can call the 24-hour hotline, as the ultimate goal of this service is to provide information about treatment options for bath salts addiction. This resource could direct people to find a nearby treatment facility or, if needed, travel out of the state.
Bath salts are a dangerous drug and have grown in popularity in recent years due to their low cost and cocaine-like effects. If you or a loved one have shown signs of addiction, call The Recovery Village immediately to plan treatment and begin detoxification. People who are addicted to bath salts do not need to continue suffering from the substance use disorder. Help is available and, with assistance, a future without addiction is possible.
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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.