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Bath Salts Addiction and Abuse

Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts, are man-made drugs that act as psychoactive stimulants. The recreational use of bath salts has become an important topic not only for drug abuse treatment providers but also for law enforcement and government agencies. Bath salts can cause erratic behavior in users, who may pose a danger to themselves and others.

This page will provide more insight into bath salts, if they are addictive, their effects, signs of bath salts abuse, how bath salts addiction is treated, and whether you can use your insurance plan to obtain bath salts addiction treatment and rehab.


What is Addiction to Bath Salts?

Stimulant addiction is the continued, compulsive use of stimulants, including bath salts, despite serious negative consequences, such as health, work, school, and relationship problems.1 Addiction is a treatable medical illness that affects the brain and changes behaviors such as self-control.2

Stimulant use in the United States is a public health issue. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 4.9 million people in the United States aged 12 or older misused stimulants in the past year.3


Checking Your Insurance Benefits 

If you are looking for bath salts addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.


What are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are synthetic compounds chemically related to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant.4 Khat is a shrub that grows in East Africa and Southern Arabia; locals chew on the leaves of the plant for its mild stimulant effect. The synthetic forms of cathinone are much more potent than the natural plant form and are intended to mimic the effects of illicit stimulants like methamphetamine, MDMA, or cocaine.5,6

Synthetic cathinones are included in a group of drugs that officials call new psychoactive substances (NPS). Mostly manufactured in China and shipped to the U.S., these drugs are labeled and sold as products “not for human consumption,” such as plant food or bath salts, in order to avoid the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).5,6

Bath salts are usually a crystal-like white, off-white, or yellowish powder, and can also be found as tablets or capsules. They are most commonly snorted, but can also be smoked, swallowed, or injected.4,5

Common street names for bath salts and other synthetic cathinones include:5

  • Flakka.
  • Bloom.
  • Cloud Nine.
  • Meow Meow.
  • Lunar Wave.
  • White Knight.
  • White Lightning.
  • White Rush.
  • Vanilla Sky.
  • Scarface.

Are Bath Salts Addictive?

Yes, bath salts are highly addictive. Individuals who use bath salts have reported that the drug triggers an intense, uncontrollable urge to use them again.4,6 Bath salts are classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse.5

Frequent use of bath salts may lead to tolerance (when an individual needs to take more of the drug to experience the same effects), dependence, and powerful withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug.4,6

Withdrawal symptoms may include:4,6

  • Anxiety.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Depression.
  • Tremors.
  • Insomnia and lethargy.
  • Paranoia.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Bath Salts?

Bath salts are stimulants that are chemically similar to amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA (ecstasy or Molly), and they produce many of the same desired effects as these drugs, including:4,6

  • Increased energy.
  • Empathy/emotional openness.
  • Increased libido.
  • Euphoria.
  • Reduced social inhibitions.
  • Sensory hallucinations.

Bath salts raise the brain’s level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward, movement, and feelings of joy. A rush of dopamine to the brain can cause pleasant feelings and increased energy, but it can raise also raise the user’s heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels.6

Bath salts effects from abuse may include:4-6

  • Teeth grinding.
  • Headaches.
  • Seizures.
  • Paranoia, agitation, and nervousness.
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and chest pain.
  • Aggressive, violent, and self-destructive behavior.
  • Sweating.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Vomiting and feeling sick to the stomach.
  • Dizziness.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Reduced control of movements.
  • Acute psychosis.

What are the Health Risks of Bath Salts Abuse?

The use of bath salts has been linked with a range of health consequences, many of which can be fatal-especially if the person is using bath salts in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Bath salts side effects include:4-6

  • High blood pressure.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Overactive reflexes.
  • Extreme paranoia.
  • Headaches and teeth grinding.
  • Agitation and aggression.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.

In extreme cases, some individuals may experience a syndrome known as “excited delirium,” where they become psychotic and violent. They may also experience dehydration, the breakdown of muscle tissue attached to bones, and kidney failure. Excited delirium is a state of extreme agitation that is frequently accompanied by violence toward others or self-harming behavior.4,6


How Do I Get Help for Addiction to Bath Salts?

Effective treatment and support exist for stimulant addiction and SUD. Treatment may be delivered by private rehab, via state or local treatment programs in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, through support groups, or in various other ways.

Addiction treatment may include the following:

  • Inpatient treatment typically involves staying in a facility with around-the-clock care and monitoring, group therapy, and individual counseling.
  • Outpatient treatment allows the patient to attend group and individual counseling sessions while living at home. This type of care may provide you with the opportunity to attend, school, work, and participate in daily life while working on your recovery.

There are several evidence-based therapies that can be used in any treatment setting:4,6-8

  • Behavioral therapy, which may be delivered individually or in a group, helps you identify your relationship with heroin and other drugs and teaches you strategies to avoid people, places, things, or events that may trigger drug use, such as alternative coping methods to deal with stress.
  • Integrated treatment of co-occurring disorders. Many people who have SUDs also meet the criteria for another mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. The relationship between both disorders is complex and intertwined, with symptoms of SUDs and other mental health conditions often overlapping. Integrating the treatment of both conditions has been found to be consistently superior vs. treating each diagnosis separately.
  • Individualized treatment plans. There is no one size fits all plan for addiction treatment, and a successful treatment approach is tailored to the individual’s needs, addressing all areas of a person’s life, such as employment training, housing, or legal issues, that may affect a person’s ability to stay on track with treatment and avoid relapse.

There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual help support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bonds, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.


Where Can I Learn More About Treating Addiction to Bath Salts?

For more information about stimulant abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for bath salts abuse treatment.

There are various treatment programs and strategies available for bath salts addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs. To learn more about bath salts addiction treatment, click here.


 Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Misuse of Prescription Drugs Research Report: What classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Synthetic Cathinones (“Bath Salts”) DrugFacts.
  5. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drug Fact Sheet: Bath Salts.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Principles of Effective Treatment.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Types of Treatment Programs.

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