“Bath salts” is the unofficial “street name” for a group of designer drugs that typically contain synthetic cathinones, that cause stimulating effects comparable to cocaine and amphetamine. The white crystals often resemble Epsom salts or other legal bathing products. The drugs, nicknamed bath salts, are chemically nothing like actual bath products. We will discuss bath salts ADDICTION, WITHDRAWAL, and TREATMENT in the article below.
The packaging of synthetic cathinones often states “not for human consumption,” “jewelry cleaner,” or similar markings, in an effort to prevent the prohibition of the drugs. Street names for this drug include Bliss, Ivory, Wave, and Vanilla Sky. Cathinones have psychostimulant properties and are sourced from the “khat” plant that grows in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The leaves are generally chewed, or used in “tea.” Khat consumption in raw form is legal in these locations, where the drug is sold and consumed openly, but khat has been banned elsewhere in the world.6 The cathinones from the leaves are synthesized in the lab to make them into much more powerful stimulants, and it is these synthetic products that are referred to as “bath salts.”
Bath salts are typically ingested by snorting/sniffing. Bath salts can be smoked, consumed orally, or conjured into a solution that is injected into the veins. These compounds are highly addictive.
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Effects that have been reported to Poison Control include agitation, suicidal thoughts, confusion, combative/violent behavior, increased heart rate, hallucinations/psychosis, chest pain, hypertension, serious injury, or death.
The onset of the drug is around 15 minutes, and the high can last for 4-6 hours.
Psychiatric/Mental Health Side Effects of Bath Salts (Synthetic Cathinones)
Intensified sensory experiences
Anxiety and panic attacks
Paranoia and delusions
Hallucinations (tactile, visual, and auditory)
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors, self-harm, or behaviors harmful to others
Synthetic Cathinones Research on “Bath Salts”
Because these drugs consist of an ever-changing array of different chemicals, the side effects and withdrawal effects can vary — depending on the chemical makeup of the batch ingested.
One synthetic cathinone derivative, in particular, has come up in a majority of bath salt users ending up in ER, testing positive for a compound called 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV.1,2,4
Because of the prevalence of this particular agent coming up, the bulk of research has been done on MDPV’s powerful effects. There are other types of synthetics out there called “bath salts” or called by other names.
Specific synthetic drugs, of which there are uncountable numbers, will each have a unique profile, correlating to its ingredients and how they affect neurology, and much is left to be discovered on their harmful effects. Additionally, when a person thinks they are purchasing “ecstasy” or “Molly” or other man-made street drugs, it is likely that some of these will contain MDPV or one of the hundreds of similar designer-drug compounds.2,3
Withdrawal Symptoms “Bath Salts”
In general, the withdrawal symptoms from synthetic cathinone (bath salts) mirror the withdrawal symptoms of stimulants like cocaine or meth, including:
Uncontrollable drug cravings*
Anxiety and panic attacks
Slowed or impaired speech
Insomnia or hypersomnia Including sleep disturbances and nightmares
*According to NIDA, tests on rats and also human users showed intense, uncontrollable urges to take the drug again.
Synthetic Cathinones Addiction Treatment
Alternative to Meds Center employs corrective treatments that are directed to address the underlying causes that led a person to use recreational drugs or other addictive substances. Identifying these root issues allows us to work at correcting them, which can make lasting relief and stability a possibility. There are members of our staff who have been through similar substance abuse problems and offer our residents authentic understanding and compassion. Because of the neurological harm that drugs such as “bath salts” are known to cause,5 a program that can initiate natural rehabilitation of neurochemistry (drug-free methods) could be a beneficial treatment choice. If you or someone you care about is taking bath salts, please call us and get the guidance you are searching for.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
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