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Concurrent Alcohol and Bath Salts Abuse

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Bath Salts: A Dangerous Synthetic Drug

Even though few people mention “bath salts” when they discuss addictive drugs, this new drug has grown astronomically in popularity over the past several years.

“Bath salts” are far from the salts you may have used in your bath water at one time or another; they are synthetic powders cooked up in backyard labs to closely resemble cocaine and amphetamines, drawing on concentrated versions of the stimulant in the plant known as Khat.

These dangerous powders are called “bath salts” because they resemble those harmless crystals. Another misleading name for these drugs is “research chemicals.” In fact, these substances act as a sort of “fake cocaine,” with similar effects felt when they are consumed by snorting, injecting or smoking. Most bath salts contain mephedrone, a stimulant, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDVP, a stimulant and psychoactive drug.

The effects of bath salts are felt most keenly when the drug is snorted or administered intravenously. Each of the drug’s components has its particular dangers: mephedrone has long been known to produce overdoses due to its highly addictive properties and MDPV causes changes in neurochemical function, amplifying perception, behavior, mood and thought.

Bath salts became drugs of choice for some only about a decade ago. To prove that authorities and legal experts have not caught up to the proliferation of bath salts, you only have to log on to the Internet to find them for sale in the open. You can also find them at certain stores that sell them as a “legal high.” With Internet sales, obviously, there is no way to screen buyers to determine age, which only heightens the potential damage that bath salts can do.

Some bath salts have indeed been declared illegal, but not all have been ruled to be against the law yet. In late 2011, the DEA used its emergency scheduling authority to place three of the stimulants used to make bath salts in the category of Schedule 1 Substances, legislated by the Controlled Substances Act.

Mixing Alcohol and Bath Salts

Bath salts are often combined with alcohol abuse as users get hooked on the euphoric feelings that they experience. Here are some of the alcohol and bath salts facts that have been uncovered in the past few years through anecdotal evidence and research:

  • Bath salts take only 15 minutes to have an effect.
  • The intense high lasts for anywhere from 4-8 hours.
  • This high includes an elevated heart rate, sweating and, of course, insomnia.
  • The high is followed by a true low that features paranoia, depression and agitation—along with a craving for the euphoria again.

Signs and Symptoms

If you are wondering if someone you love is abusing bath salts, look for these signs of concurrent alcohol and bath salts abuse:

  • Jittery behavior coupled with anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • High heart rate.
  • Nausea.
  • Seizures.
  • Paranoia and panic attacks.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • General agitation.
  • Erratic behavior that could include hallucinations.
  • Lack of appetite.

Combined Effects

When combined with alcohol abuse, abuse of bath salts can be incredibly dangerous, with the full extent of negative effects still unknown. When you consider that many bath salts have a 90% purity level, you can begin to grasp the toxicity of these drugs (cocaine and amphetamines often have a purity level under 50%). Another huge danger of bath salts is that no recommended dosage comes with the $50 packets that users buy on the Internet.

Among the concurrent alcohol and bath salts abuse problems noted by researchers are:

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

Bath Salts Rehab and Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Some treatment centers now bill themselves as bath salt addiction centers, which is promising. These centers have learned quickly about concurrent bath salts and alcohol addiction and they are offering rehab programs that can help bath salts addicts.

Many treatment centers offer dual diagnosis rehab programs, which treat any co-occurring mental health disorders alongside substance addiction.

Due to the extreme addiction that can result from bath salts misuse, users often have to spend prolonged periods of time at rehab centers. The National Institute of Health recommends residential recovery programs that last at least 30 days. Some bath salts/alcohol abusers need 6 months to a year in these facilities to completely achieve sobriety.

If you need liberation from alcohol and bath salts addictions, call for free at to discuss your treatment options.

Alcohol and Bath Salts Statistics

Statistics for alcohol and bath salts users are difficult to come by, given that bath salts have only recently become popular. Even so, SAMHSA has reported that 23,000 emergency room visits were made by bath salts users in 2011, drawing on a report released by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

Of those 23,000 visits, two-thirds were prompted by an additional substance being abused in combination with bath salts. The most common partner with bath salts resulting in trips to the emergency room was marijuana (15%).

Teen Drinking And Bath Salt Abuse

Because bath salts are still available on the Internet under the guise of several alluring names, they often are inevitably combined with alcohol by teens who want a new thrill. As with almost any addictive drug, bath salts have an exponentially more powerful effect when combined with alcohol.

Teens have been drawn to bath salts because they seem less dangerous and are sometimes billed as a legal high. They have been able to obtain them both on the Web and in “head shops.” As their less-developed bodies try to cope with the introduction of these chemicals, the possibility of serious damage and death is higher for teens.

Learn more about teen alcohol and drug misuse.

How to Find Help for Alcohol and Bath Salts Misuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance misuse, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional addiction treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a happier and healthier life. To learn more about rehab programs and treatment options, contact a caring admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) for free at . You can also check your insurance coverage online now to determine whether your health insurance provider will cover rehabilitation.

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