Bath salts and bath salts effects have been making headlines thanks to harrowing stories of psychotic “zombie” attacks caused by the substance.
However, the name ‘bath salts’ is misleading, and should not be confused with products like Epsom salts which do not contain psychoactive properties. While bath salt is the most common name for this drug, it goes by many others including drone, meow meow, cloud nine, ivory wave, white lightening, blue silk and vanilla sky.
Bath salts effects impact the central nervous system and are responsible for a growing number of emergency room visits. Until recently, the drug was readily available in many gas stations, convenience stores, smoke shops and on the internet. Although the packaging was often labeled as “not for human consumption,” increasing rates of abuse and alarming side effects have been made bath salts illegal in the U.S. On September 7, 2011, bath salts were placed on the Schedule I controlled substances list, meaning they cannot be sold or prescribed under any circumstances. And, although many of the substances found in bath salts have been banned, several manufacturers have replaced substances found in bath salts in order to legally sell the substance.
What are Bath Salts?
The name “bath salts” is used to describe a variety of designer drugs that contain one or more synthetic chemicals and typically take the form of a white or brown crystalline powder. Bath salts are commonly sold in small plastic bags or foil packages and may be labeled under a variety of brand names to avoid detection. Sometimes bath salts are marketed as “plant food” or “jewelry cleaner.” Packages typically contain about 200 to 500 milligrams of the powder and are relatively cheap. Since bath salts were marketed as a different product and packaged as “not for human consumption”, the drug was easily accessible in many stores and online.
The bath salts drug acts as a stimulant and produces effects that are appealing to people who use cocaine or meth. Users most often snort the drug, but people also inject the drug, smoke it and orally ingest it. If ingested orally, the drug often peaks 1.5 hours after use and lasts approximately three to four hours.
The full extent of bath salt use is currently not known; however, there have been significant increases in usage rates in the United States. Bath salt reports first began surfacing in the U.S. in 2009. Since then, 45 states have received poison control center calls related to bath salts effects. And usage rates have reportedly increased five times since 2010.
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Bath Salts Effects: Sign & Symptoms
Bath salts effects can occur at relatively low doses (as low as three to five milligrams), but average doses appear to be between five and 20 milligrams. Bath salts reportedly have a high addictive potential and use can lead to increased tolerance. They also produce intense cravings similar to those experienced by individuals who abuse meth. Since bath salts are often cut with other unknown substances, the enormity of bath salt toxicity and addictiveness are also unknown. The same is true for measuring the danger and deadly nature of bath salts.
The effect bath salts have on users has a large range, from nausea to death. Some signs and symptoms associated with bath salt use include:
|Panic attacks||Reduced need for sleep and/or food||Hyperthermia
|Hallucinations||Paranoia||Increased heart rate|
|Confusion||High blood pressure||Seizures|
|Agitation||Suicidal thoughts||Chest pains|
Bath salts effects have been linked to recent alarming stories of aggression and self-destruction. Reportedly, they can cause uncontrolled attacks on others and zombie-like, unresponsiveness to the attempts of others to stop the users actions. Tasers and pepper spray are no match to this side effect. Paranoia and delusions are also associated with bath salt use and are to blame for some of the more extreme reported responses, including violent or suicidal behaviors.
Bath salt abuse has led to an increase in emergency room and poison control center visits since many of the symptoms of use require medical attention. There is no known antidote for bath salt overdoses. Those who experience an overdose may be admitted to intensive care and may require sedatives, antipsychotics, restraints and other measures to protect both users and those around them.
Treatment for Bath Salts Effects and Addiction
The addictiveness of bath salts is currently unknown and because the drug is often cut with other illicit substances, it can be incredibly dangerous. The rate at which tolerance builds and the intense cravings it produces suggests the drug is extremely addictive. Given this, it may be impossible for the user to stop using the drug on his/her own. The bath salt drug produces such dangerous side effects, that if it is suspected that a loved one is abusing the substance, it is critical to intervene immediately. Bath salts are known to cause serious damage both physically and psychologically, and abuse of the drug can put the user and all those around him/her in danger.
Since bath salts effects impact the brain similarly to methamphetamines, those who use bath salts may require a significant amount of time in an inpatient treatment program to effectively deal with the addiction. Inpatient treatment provides a safe, secure environment for an individual to withdraw and abstain from substance abuse. A place free from enabling peers and environments. Behavioral therapy is a major component of drug abuse rehab as sobriety requires an individual to change his/her lifestyle in order to support a drug-free life. This includes finding ways to effectively deal with stressors and triggers without relying on drugs.
Mental health disorders are often a major influence in the development of drug abuse. Drugs may be used as a method of self-medicating against symptoms of disorders. Ultimately, self-medicating exacerbates symptoms and causes more problems.. A dual-diagnosis program ensures the individual is simultaneously receiving treatment for both the addiction and the mental health disorder. Treating the two together greatly reduces the likelihood of relapse and allows individuals to heal both mentally and physically. In conjunction with dual-diagnosis treatment, experiential therapies allow individuals to receive therapeutic benefits in real world situations. This type of therapy helps individuals explore new interests and potentially develop new hobbies that replace time previously used for drug abuse.
The most important component of treatment is finding a program that meets the individual’s specific needs. Individualized treatment ensures clients receive treatment that is specifically tailored to address their unique needs. Individualized programs take into account biological factors, history of abuse, presence of co-occurring disorders and even age. The needs of an individual change throughout the recovery process and treatment should be flexible. There are a variety of treatment centers that offer a wide array of amenities designed to assist individuals in maintaining a sober lifestyle. Some options include individual and group therapies, life coaching, family counseling, dual-diagnosis, experiential therapy and more.
It is equally important to teach individuals life skills and healthy coping mechanisms that support a sober lifestyle. Individuals must learn to avoid triggers as well as enabling peers and environments, while simultaneously practicing behaviors that encourage sober living. Achieving sobriety is more than simply abstaining from drug abuse; it is a lifestyle change that requires dedication and support.
With the right treatment facility, it is possible to achieve a happy, sober lifestyle.