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Bath Salts Abuse Symptoms

Bath salt abuse is a growing problem that involves the use of synthetic drugs. This use can have serious and potentially life-threatening effects on the body and mind.

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Bath salts can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including psychotic behavior, delusions, hallucinations, panic attacks, weight loss, and nausea. Their use can be highly addictive. Early intervention and treatment are key to preventing further harm.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Bath Salts Abuse?

Bath salts abuse can have a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of bath salts abuse include the following:

Risky behavior is common after using bath salts.

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Hallucinations and paranoia
  • Psychotic behavior
  • Delusions
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle tremors and seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Dental problems (from teeth grinding)

What Are the Dangers of Bath Salts?

Bath salts can cause various adverse effects that individuals should be aware of. With both physical effects, including increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure, chest pain leading up to potentially fatal seizures or kidney failure, and psychological effects, such as intense hallucinations resulting in paranoia accompanied by delusions or even suicidal ideation, using bath salts is an inherently risky decision. 

Bath salts are also a broad type of synthetic drug whose composition fluctuates greatly from one product to another. Such uncertainty regarding their chemical makeup introduces substantial risks for adverse side effects beyond those typically associated with bath salts, which may be difficult to predict. 

This is part of why many countries have criminalized possession and sale of these drugs, attempting to keep them out of circulation and mitigate the potential harms of individuals misusing these drugs. However, as a relatively new class of designer drugs emerges onto the market worldwide, government agencies often struggle to control their spread. It takes time for policy to properly regulate new substances. As soon as one substance is banned, another springs up in its place.

Despite attempts at regulation through various national laws or bans enacted globally against these substances’ distribution within communities worldwide, greater research into this relatively new health threat remains necessary. These drugs may also have occasional legitimate uses in research, even if they should not be considered safe for human consumption.

Breakdown of the Effects of Bath Salts

The effects of bath salts vary, as the term refers to a broad collection of compounds. These compounds usually undergo no human testing and are rarely meant for human consumption. Thus, their effects on humans remain poorly understood at best. 

Researchers know that different compositions often lead to negative consequences for users who take these substances. Notably, bath salt use often has many of the stimulant effects attributed to other stimulant-like drugs, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. 

Positive experiences shared by many bath salt users involve the euphoria and burst of energy these drugs are known to cause, which is one reason they are often abused. Not only do these psychoactive substances commonly induce sensations of increased energy and euphoria within users, but they have an addictive nature. Bath salt use is reinforced in the brain and potentially leads to physical dependence.

Risky behavior is common after using bath salts, including engaging in violence or self-harm, as well as risky sexual conduct. While under the effects of bath salts, a person may hallucinate and/or experience a break from reality, believing things that aren’t true. 

The use of bath salts should be considered especially dangerous, even when compared to other illicit drugs that are also considered dangerous for human use.

How to Recognize Bath Salts Addiction

Bath salt use has been associated with some signs that can be observed in abusers, such as these: 

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Elevated blood pressure levels
  • Rapid heartbeat, which results in chest pains 
  • Nausea 
  • Unexplained weight loss

Equally problematic are the array of behavioral changes experienced by those abusing bath salts, such as these:  

  • Irritability 
  • Distorted beliefs, often leading to unusual and even violent conduct
  • Social withdrawal, which may then lead to the deterioration of relationships and being unable to engage in once enjoyed social activities 
  • Failure to stop using bath salts despite their harmful consequences
  • Failed attempts at quitting use

Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from bath salts isn’t well studied, but it has been reported anecdotally by users and has been shown to likely occur in animals in studies. Among the most prevalent signs of bath salt withdrawal are intense cravings for the drug, feelings of depression, and anxiety. 

Those who undergo bath salt withdrawal often report tiredness and fatigue, which makes even simple tasks challenging. Insomnia is also quite common among those dealing with withdrawal, making sleep an ongoing difficulty for them. They may also feel paranoid, experiencing fearfulness over everyday situations. 

In the most severe cases of withdrawal, some people experience psychosis, meaning they may experience hallucinations, delusions, and confusion. This can be dangerous, so medical detox is generally recommended.

What to Do if Someone Is Overdosing on Bath Salts

The DEA and many other experts have stated that bath salts have the potential to cause a dangerous overdose, potentially causing serious heart problems, seizures, severe breaks from reality, and more. 

If you suspect someone is overdosing on bath salts, act quickly to get them medical help. Bath salt overdose can be life-threatening, and prompt treatment can help to prevent serious harm and death.

Here are the steps to take if someone is overdosing on bath salts:

  • Call 911. Inform the operator about the situation, including how much bath salts were taken, if known.
  • Stay with the person. Don’t leave them alone. Wait until medical help arrives.
  • Talk gently to them. Providing moral support can ease the process for them both physically and mentally before medical assistance arrives. 
  • Monitor vital signs, especially their respiration and heart rate. If their heart or breathing dangerously slow or stop, begin CPR. The urgency operator may talk you through this. 
  • Do not attempt to induce vomiting or give the person liquids. These actions tend to worsen the situation.

Again, prompt professional intervention is essential when dealing with a bath salts overdose. Don’t delay in calling for help.

An overdose is a clear sign of a bath salts abuse problem, so addiction treatment is recommended. In a comprehensive treatment program, you’ll learn how to manage substance abuse triggers, so you don’t return to bath salts abuse in the future. You’ll also build the foundation of a healthy and balanced life that supports recovery from substance abuse. Get started on the path to a better future today.

Updated December 1, 2023
Resources
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  2. The Availability and Depiction of Synthetic Cathinones (i.e., Bath Salts) on the Internet: Do online suppliers Employ Features to Maximize Purchases? (July 2015). International Journal of Drug Policy.
  3. Psychoactive “Bath Salts”: Not So Soothing. (January 2013). European Journal of Pharmacology.
  4. A Trip on “Bath Salts” Is Cheaper Than Meth or Cocaine but Much More Dangerous. (December 2012). JAMA Network.
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  6. Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts): An Emerging Domestic Threat. (July 2011). U.S. Department of Justice.
  7. Clinical Toxicology and Management of Intoxications With Synthetic Cathinones (“Bath Salts”). (November 2012). Journal of Pharmacy Practice.
  8. Awash in a Sea of ‘Bath Salts’: Implications for Biomedical Research and Public Health. (July 2014). Addiction.
  9. Former Bath-Salts Addict: ‘It Felt So Evil’. (June 2012). CNN.
  10. The Toxicology of Bath Salts: A Review of Synthetic Cathinones. (March 2012). Prime.
  11. Synthetic Cannabinoids and “Bath Salts” Should Be Considered Drugs of Abuse. (March 2012). American Family Physician.
  12. Analysis of Synthetic Cathinones Commonly Found in Bath Salts in Human Performance and Postmortem Toxicology: Method Development, Drug Distribution and Interpretation of Results. (April 2013). Journal of Analytical Toxicology.
  13. “Bath Salt” Drug Spurs Psychosis-Like Condition in the Brain, UF Health Study Finds. (June 2016). University of Florida Health.
  14. “Bath Salts” Intoxication: A New Recreational Drug That Presents With a Familiar Toxidrome. (June 2016). University of Florida Health.
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