Drug Use

What are bath salts?

Bath salts (not epsom), are an illicit drug made with synthetic cathinones, most used by teens and young adults. Also called Vanilla Sky, they are very addictive

Bath salts, also known as Red Sky, Vanilla Sky, Blue Silk, Ivory Wave, or Purple Wave, are an illicit drug most used by teenagers and young adults. Despite the seemingly innocuous name, this drug can be very harmful. This designer drug’s name was derived from its similar appearance to Epsom salts used in the bath. However, despite the similar appearance, this drug has a different chemical makeup.

Bath salts is the most widely used designer drug's street name given to this dangerous drug made with synthetic cathinone. Cathinone is a stimulant occurring naturally in the khat plant typically found in parts of Africa. Other names, including brand names, for bath salts include White Lightning, Cloud Nine, Red Dove, Cotton Cloud, Bloom, Vanilla Sky, Lunar Wave, White Snow, Ivory Wave, and Scarface. They're sold online and in head shops, convenience stores, gas stations, under categories such as jewelry cleaner, phone-screen cleaner, or plant food.

Some of the most commonly found synthetic cathinone in bath salts are 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone. In 2012, President Obama deemed the active ingredients in bath salts as Schedule 1 drugs. This means that bath salts are an illicit drug and cannot be prescribed or sold.

How Do Bath Salts Affect the Body?

Bath salts come in powder form and are usually light in color; white, off-white, or slightly yellow in color. Mephedrone and methylene, two khat-derived bath salts, are very similar in action to amphetamines. These designer drugs, desired for their stimulant effects, may also produce hallucinogenic and euphoric ‘highs’. Bath salts are taken orally (mixed with food or a beverage), snorted, inhaled, or injected. Snorting and injecting are the most harmful and dangerous ways to consume these dangerous, psychoactive drugs.

The chemical composition of bath salts can vary widely, producing a range of drug affects—both short and long-term—from using bath salts. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that MDPV, a common synthetic cathinone found in bath salts, is ten times more powerful than cocaine, is very similar to Ecstasy in how it makes the user feel.

The negative short-term effects of bath salts can range from agitation to panic attacks, to hallucinations. Severe reactions may include aggression, violent behavior, adverse mental health symptoms, and psychosis. Other potentially fatal drug reactions are suicidal feelings and overdose. Overdose is the most common complication from the use of bath salts.

Side Effects of Bath Salts

As the chemical composition of bath salts can vary, so too do the effects on the body. The effects of bath salts usually begin about 15 minutes after consumption and can last up to six hours. Here are some of the most common side effects of bath salts:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Faintness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased pulse
  • Increased friendliness
  • Increased sex drive
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate

It’s important to note that suicidal feelings brought on by bath salts can last for several days after the person has taken the drug. Additionally, users of bath salts have reported cravings much like that experienced by methamphetamine users. While it’s hard to exactly know the long-term effects of this dangerous drug, it is known that users are at high risk for developing substance use disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts Addiction

Addiction to bath salts can develop quickly or over time. Either way, once addiction to bath salts has set in, it can be nearly impossible to overcome without professional help. Here are some signs of bath salts addiction:

Physical Symptoms of People Who Use Bath Salts

  • Sores or spots near the mouth
  • Significant or sudden weight changes
  • Nosebleeds and frequent runny noses
  • Bruises or cuts
  • Lethargy
  • Speech that is slurred or disorganized
  • Sweating often
  • Being sick a lot
  • Poor hygiene
  • Burns on fingers and lips
  • Track marks on limbs
  • Red cheeks
  • Unusual smell of breath or always chewing gum to hide it

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Loss of interest in school, work, sports, etc
  • Changes in relationships with family and friends
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to focus
  • Hiding, locking bedroom door, or being secretive
  • Disappearing for extended periods of time
  • Angry
  • Elated
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactive
  • Long periods of sleeplessness followed by periods of long sleeping
  • Lack of coordination
  • Money issues

Data shows that bath salts are most used by teenagers and young adults. If you are concerned about a loved one’s use of bath salts look for some of these above-listed signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salt Withdrawal

According to NIDA, MDVP is the most common chemical found in people who are treated in the emergency department for issues from taking bath salts. MDVP is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms can be severe and difficult to manage alone. Because the chemical make-up of bath salts can vary so greatly, the withdrawal symptoms can vary as well. Here are some of the most common signs of bath salt withdrawal:

Physical Symptoms

  • Nightmares
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tremors
  • Strong cravings

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Inability to focus
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Delayed thinking
  • Depressive thoughts

The length of withdrawal from bath salts varies depending on numerous factors including how long they were used, when the last dose was taken, how much was taken, and more. Generally, withdrawal from bath salts lasts from one to ten days.

Withdrawal side effects from bath salts aren’t considered life-threatening as with other drugs. However, as mentioned the exact chemical make-up of bath salts can vary and chemicals can cause unknown and unexpected reactions. In addition, severe depression and suicide are common with bath salts withdrawal. For these reasons, it’s highly recommended that anyone who is addicted to bath salts and wants to stop seek professional help to do so.

Treatment for Bath Salts Addiction

Treatment for bath salts addiction is much like treatment for other types of substance use disorders. Evidence-based programming such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy, and behavioral therapies have shown to be helpful in treating numerous substance abuse issues including bath salts.

It’s important to remember that addiction to bath salts is highly treatable. Finding the right addiction treatment program to help is the first step to recovery. At Caron, we treat individuals with bath salt addictions as well as other substance use disorders. We are Real About Recovery and Recovery For Life. Call us today and learn more about how we can help you or a loved one recover from substance use issues too. 1-800-854-6023

What are bath salts?

Bath salts, which got their name from sometimes being disguised as Epsom salt, belong to a broad category of recreational drugs derived from synthetic cathinones. The effects of bath salts are reported to be similar to other types of psychostimulants.

What are bath salts for?

Bath salts are a lab-made recreational drug used by people to temporarily produce intense feelings of joy. They can also increase extroversion and libido.

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