Bath Salts Addiction
When you think of bath salts, you probably think of Epsom salts or Sitz baths.
However, the those are not the same types used by people who suffer from bath salts addiction.
Bath salts are sold under various names including:
- Arctic Blast
- Ivory Snow
- Ivory Wave
- Purple Wave
- Vanilla Sky
- White Knight
- White Rush
Abused bath salts are very powerful narcotics and they are snorted, swallowed or even injected. The active ingredients in bath salts are mephedrone , 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone.
Sellers of these narcotic-type bath salts have avoided detection by law enforcement in the past by by marketing the salts through channels that seemed professional, such as online retailers, and by using feeble disclaimers such as “not for human consumption.”
In 2011 they were finally considered to be controlled substances and they were outlawed..2
Short Term Effects of Bath Salts
Bath salts are inexpensive and readily available for purchase online and users consume bath salts for their stimulant effects. They are said to cause a sensation similar to that of methamphetamine.3
Most of the effects of bath salts on the brain are inferred from compounds that are structurally related to them.
In other words, these bath salts increase the amount of neurotransmitters present in pleasure centers in the brain.
This effect is somewhat similar to how cocaine [MS1] acts on the brain; however bath salts do not seem to cause the strong euphoria that cocaine user’s experience. As with other stimulants, bath salts can reduce the body’s drive to sleep, suppress appetite, and cause hallucinations (at high doses).
The initial effects of bath salts (when taken orally or snorted) build to a peak between 45 to 90 minutes though effects last up to four hours. This is followed by an abrupt and unpleasant “crash” lasting an additional 1 to 2 hours.4
Short Term Damage of Bath Salts
The following symptoms are typically seen in the emergency room from people who have abused bath salts:
- Highly agitated
- Actively hallucinating
- Dangerously high heart rate.4
These patients are often violent towards staff and severely paranoid. Self-mutilation, suicidal and homicidal behavior has also been reported.3
In general, bath salt intoxication can cause:
- High blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Body temperature
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Muscle spasms
- Heart attacks
- Swelling in the brain4
Bath Salts Addiction
It is unclear whether users are at risk of bath salts addiction. Researchers and clinicians can only make educated guesses from similar drugs. Based upon that, it is quite possible that, you can become addicted to bath salts. 5
Moreover, since the drug almost always causes severe and harsh side effects, continuing to seek out the drug despite negative consequences fits the definition of addiction.
Long Term Damage From Abuse of Bath Salts
An overdose on bath salts increases the intensity of short term damaging effects and the risk of death. One of the key problems with dosing is that packages of bath salts are poorly marked and subtly encourage the use of very large doses. Therefore the risk of overdose is quite high.
Some packages contain 500 mg of bath salts and encourage 50 mg doses, but biological effects occur at doses as low as 5 mg.3
Symptoms and Signs of Abuse
Signs of bath salts addiction and abuse can be difficult to detect because after the drug has cleared the user’s system, there may be no noticeable effects.
It is prudent to question a loved one that has a package marked “bath salts” but who does not routinely take baths. This is especially true if the “bath salts” are marked with any of the street names listed.
There are no studies to describe drug interactions with bath salts. However, users report that bath salts have the worst characteristics of LSD, PCP, ecstasy, methamphetamine and cocaine.3 Thus taking any of these drugs bath salts are likely to intensify the ill effects.
- DEA. DEA Moves to Emergency Control Synthetic Stimulants. 2011; http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr090711.html.
- Schedules of controlled substances: temporary placement of three synthetic cathinones in Schedule I. Final Order. Fed Regist. Oct 21 2011;76(204):65371-65375.
- Ross EA, Watson M, Goldberger B. “Bath salts” intoxication. N Engl J Med. Sep 8 2011;365(10):967-968.
- Emergency department visits after use of a drug sold as “bath salts”–Michigan, November 13, 2010-March 31, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. May 20 2011;60(19):624-627.
- James D, Adams RD, Spears R, et al. Clinical characteristics of mephedrone toxicity reported to the U.K. National Poisons Information Service. Emerg Med J. Aug 2011;28(8):686-689.
- Odenwald M, Neuner F, Schauer M, et al. Khat use as risk factor for psychotic disorders: a cross-sectional and case-control study in Somalia. BMC Med. 2005;3:5.