Effects of Bath Salts (Recreational Drug)

The name of bath salts sounds like an innocent thing but it actually means something different than what you might think. They are sold to people as a whitish or off-white powdery substance, usually in tiny plastic packages or foil packages. The drugs are then usually snorted up the nose but they can be smoked, swallowed, or mixed with water in order to be injected into a vein. What are the effects of bath salts when they are taken in by the body?

What Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are actually dangerous and strong stimulant drugs made by man using chemicals such as “cathinones”. These are chemicals that increase the activity of the central nervous system and brain in ways that are similar to Ecstasy and amphetamine drugs. They can block the dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake system, leading to possibly serious or sometimes fatal negative effects. Bath salts contain a lot of ingredients in them, the most common of which is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

There may be other stimulants in the product, which add to the effects of the drug. Some of these include mephedrone and pyrovalerone. The component, MDPV is from the class of compounds known as phenethylamine, which is similar to cathinone—an alkaloid compound seen in the khat plant as well as methamphetamine. There is a high risk for overdose when you take mephedrone. These CNS-stimulate bath salts, also called PABS, are a designer type of drug that is reported to cause serious intoxication and is the cause of many emergency room visits in the US these days.

Effects of Bath Salts

There are both short term and long term effects of the drugs.

Short Term Effects

Bath salts usually have at least one cathinone as part of their makeup. These are alkaloid chemicals that are chemically related to stimulants such as methamphetamines. They can increase the activity of the brain so that users of the drugs temporarily feel capable and smart.

The most common short term effects include the following:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Aggression and anxiety
  • A burst of energy from within
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Increase in the heartbeat or palpitations of the heart
  • Attacks of panic
  • Vasoconstriction of the blood vessels, leading to cold hands and fingers
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

During an overdose, these symptoms may be worse. They can also be worse if you already have a mental health problem or a physical issue. It is possible to experience a fatality or life-threatening reaction even if this is the first time you have ever used bath salts.

Long Term Effects of Bath Salts

Bath salts can have long term negative effects as well. These include cravings for the drug that progress to become a dependency on the drug similar to other addictive drugs. Bath salts are more dangerous with increased use because of their addictive potential and the drug can cause cumulative reactions on the body and brain.

This type of addiction is considered a chemical dependency rather than a personal choice or a failing of moral values. After the cravings become intense, the person is considered to have a dependency to the drug. Over a period of time, there can be serious effects of bath salts, including the following:

  • Mental illnesses, such as decreased IQ and brain damage
  • Organ failure or organ damage
  • Decreased appetite, leading to malnutrition
  • Serious depression and a lack of motivation
  • Dangerous and aggressive behavior patterns
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Difficulty with muscle coordination
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Increase in cancer risk
  • Sudden death

In the beginning, you can get minor cravings which can become more serious, resulting in depression when you can’t have access to the bath salts. There can also be tolerance to the drug in which you need more of the drug to get the same effects. This tolerance increases the chance that you might have an overdose. There will be many negative symptoms when the user attempts to quit taking the drug.

Treatment for Bath Salts Abuse

Treatment for bath salt abuse starts with managing detoxification and withdrawal and ends with full-on treatment for the addiction.

Detoxification and Withdrawal

Withdrawal from bath salts is usually no different from withdrawal from other types of stimulants, including cocaine and methamphetamine drugs. It must be done under the supervision of a mental health and medical health specialist in order to get past the uncomfortable process of withdrawal as well as to encourage the addict to continue with some form of drug treatment.

Can a Person Actually Quit?

It is difficult to get off of bath salts because they are extremely addictive. Experts don’t know much about these types of drugs except for the fact that the withdrawal symptoms are very similar to the withdrawal symptoms seen in amphetamine abuse. There can be several types of mood difficulties, such as intense cravings, anxiety and aggression toward others. People who are trying to get off of bath salts can also feel very suicidal and may suffer from depression.

Fortunately, there are counselors and support groups the addict can get in touch with that might help the quitting process so that negative side effects are less prominent.

Treatment of Addiction

There are several treatment options in the management of bath salt addiction. There is usually the need for medical monitoring in which nurses and doctors help the patient overcome the withdrawal symptoms as they come up. Some people need to be on anti-anxiety or sedative medication to help relieve the physical and emotional symptoms that go along with withdrawal.There is usually a need for qualified mental health professionals in order to handle symptoms associated with withdrawal. Following detoxification, an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program may be necessary, depending on the needs of the addict.

Rehab facilities generally provide counseling and support to the addict with the idea that these people can overcome the mental health problems and emotional issues caused by being addicted to these drugs. The goal of outpatient and inpatient programs for drug abuse includes the following:

  • To prepare the addict to live in the real world after rehab
  • To decrease the chances of a relapse

In the end, the addicts recovering from bath salts abuse might join a sober living situation or another type of supportive facility before being able to go back home. Sober homes are available to help the addict have time to be adjusted to the real world before returning to more high risk situations at home.

There are also many peer-support groups, such as 12-step programs, that can provide support and encouragement to those in recovery. The end goal for any treatment plan is to help patients return to a satisfying and productive life without any short term or long term effects of bath salts while avoiding relapse and a return to addiction.

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