What Are the Signs of Bath Salts Abuse?

bath salts drug pouring out of glass container

A disturbing trend in recent years, bath salts drug abuse is especially popular among teens and young adults. Learn why this drug is dangerous as well as signs of bath salts abuse.

What Are Bath Salts?

The drug known as bath salts has nothing to do with the fragrant crystals people use to enhance bath water. Bath salts are designer drugs – a synthetic form of cathinone, which is classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule I drugs have no known medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Bath salts have a reputation on the streets as a cheaper, more accessible form of drugs like LSD, cocaine, meth and Molly (MDMA). The name and packaging were derived as a way to skirt federal laws. The drug is crumbly, dissolvable and has a slight odor. Like ordinary bath salts, the drug is contained in small packages that read “Not for human consumption.”

Why Are Bath Salts Dangerous?

One of the many dangers of synthetic, designer drugs like bath salts is that makers keep adjusting the ingredients to get around drug laws. Once one ingredient is banned, they change its formula or find a new unregulated ingredient to take its place – perhaps one that’s even more dangerous than the previous.

The process for getting a substance banned is often long and complex, so it’s hard for lawmakers to stay on top of the evolving drug, its makers and users. Bath salts fall into the category “New Psychoactive Substances (NPS),” a designation by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to indicate a substance poses a significant risk to public health and challenges drug policy. 

Why Do People Abuse Bath Salts?

People who abuse bath salts report effects such as: 

  • Feeling “on” and more at ease socially
  • An enhanced sex drive
  • Lowered inhibition
  • More energy

The temporary high of abusing bath salts can also bring uncomfortable and serious short- and long-term effects.

Bath Salts Drug Abuse Symptoms

People who abuse bath salts may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nosebleeds
  • Insomnia
  • Violent behavior
  • Kidney failure
  • Acute psychosis
  • Dehydration

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, bath salts can be addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms when people stop using the drug. The most dangerous ways to use bath salts are through needle injection and snorting.

Street Names for Bath Salts

Bath salts go by a number of names including the following:

  • Plant Food
  • Blue Silk
  • White Dove
  • White Lightning
  • Flakka
  • Super Coke
  • Bloom
  • Tranquility
  • Cloud Nine
  • Zoom
  • Lunar Wave
  • Magic
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Ivory Wave
  • Scarface

Treatment for Bath Salts Drug Abuse

Because some people who abuse bath salts may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, medical detox may be necessary. Treatment for bath salts addiction is similar to that for other substances. Approaches like individual and group therapy can help people address the reasons they abuse drugs. Attending to underlying mental health disorders or trauma is important for recovery as is developing healthy coping skills to maintain sobriety.

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