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Bath Salts Abuse Side Effects, Symptoms, and Addiction Treatment


What Are Bath Salts Used For?

The drugs widely sold as bath salts and under other similar names are alleged to produce dramatic effects in their users. Perhaps one of the most famous incidents of apparent bath salts abuse involved a spate of horrific attacks, including cannibalism.

These instances were widely reported as being caused by these drugs, but after further information was unveiled, there was no evidence of bath salts abuse found in these cases. As a result, bath salts were widely maligned with little real evidence, and numerous myths have sprung up about their use. The facts about bath salts are disturbing on their own, but further investigation found that there was no evidence that they cause “zombie-like” behavior.

These drugs are derived from the khat plant—a shrub that grows in east Africa and parts of the Arabian peninsula. The plant produces cathinones, which act in a similar way to amphetamines. They act as stimulants on the central nervous system.

Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts Use

As with most stimulants, bath salts use leads to:

  • Rapid heart rate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils.

This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, even with short-term use. Bath salts have been associated with headaches and palpitations in a significant number of users. Increased sexual stimulation has also been associated with bath salts, potentially leading to risky sexual activities.

Physical symptoms are not the only signs of bath salts use, however. If a loved one is using bath salts, you might notice that they have lost their appetite and no longer eat as much as they did. If your loved one is at school, you may notice that their grades have dropped and their sleeping patterns have changed. For those who work, changes in work ethic and serious sleep disturbances may occur. The person might even lose his or her job thanks to erratic behavior.

Side Effects of Bath Salts Abuse

man-feeling-side-effects-from-bath-saltsLong-term abuse of bath salts appears to result in effects similar to those of amphetamines. The side effects of bath salts use include:

  • Psychosis.
  • Dizziness.
  • Heart problems.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Ulcers.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Total loss of coordination.

Media outlets have reported serious disturbances as being a side effect of bath salts use. The Miami cannibal incident in May 2012 was widely reported as being a bath salts-induced attack, although the investigation could not determine the ultimate cause of the apparent psychosis.

Mental health disorders encompass a wide range of issues, including severe depression and attempts at suicide. People might also self-mutilate and become delirious. Death is not uncommon.

Ultimately, the most dangerous side effect of bath salts use appears to be addiction, which causes users to lose touch with reality and lose their sense of self-control. While there are few studies on bath salts that show an addictive potential, their stimulation of certain neural pathways indicates that these drugs work in a similar way to amphetamines, creating similar addiction profiles.

Bath Salts Statistics

Available data on the number of people using bath salts is somewhat limited because surveillance of bath salts calls to poison control centers was not initiated until mid-2010. In 2011, there was a sharp increase in the number of calls to poison control centers concerning bath salts—numbers rose from 304 calls in all of 2010 to 6,136 calls in 2011.1

By 2012, the number of calls had decreased to 2,654.1 This decrease may have been a result of federal legislation that banned certain chemicals used to make bath salts.2

Teen Bath Salts Abuse

Drugs like bath salts appeal to younger individuals because their packaging is often colorful and attractive. They are often sold without restrictions and young people can buy them off the internet. Additionally, bath salts are not tested for in routine drug tests, making them extremely popular for those who have workplace or mandatory drug screenings.

According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future Study, 0.4% of 8th graders, 0.7% of 10th graders, and 1% of 12th graders reported using bath salts in the past year.3

If your child or someone you know is addicted to bath salts, it is important to seek treatment. The effects of a bath salts addiction can be harmful and long-lasting. When young people experiment with drugs like bath salts, it can result in problems such as:4

For more information and to learn how to help a bath salts addict, please call American Addiction Centers’ (AAC’s) hotline free at .

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment

young-girl-in-therapy-crying-bath-salts-treatmentWhen a loved one’s bath salts abuse spirals out of control, rehab is an option. Signs that an addiction is occurring usually involve a pattern of abuse that is destructive and carries on despite negative side effects. Usually, this might manifest as missing school or work, a failure to follow through with financial obligations, missing family obligations, or recurrent legal issues.

Once a bath salts addiction has been identified, it’s best to talk to the person suffering. The key is to persuade your loved one to get help. Aim to understand why the addiction happened and don’t take anything personally; the drugs may well be talking, not the person you love.

In some cases, you may be able to arrange an intervention in order to encourage your loved one to get help. In this case, you’ll want to research addiction treatment centers to see which ones are in your budget in case your loved one agrees to drug abuse treatment. You can also hire professional interventionists who deal specifically with these events.

Find Bath Salts Treatment Programs

Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for facilities where you can begin your recovery from bath salts misuse. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. If you need help with drug abuse or addiction, please contact us free at . You can also call free drug and alcohol hotline numbers.

The White House published a paper on synthetic designer drugs like bath salts, including stats and information on scheduling. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also has information on bath salts.

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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