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Bath Salts Overdose

Misuse of bath salts can lead to a potentially fatal overdose. Bath salts, a synthetic stimulant drug, impact the functioning of the central nervous system and can cause significant impacts on the mind and body. Quick intervention may prevent an overdose from becoming fatal.

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Bath Salts in the Media

Bath salts have garnered attention in the media following horrific events carried out by individuals under the influence of bath salts. 

A 2012 event in Miami, Florida, found one man on bath salts biting parts of the face of another man. Bath salts can lead to violent and aggressive behaviors not typically seen in individuals. The attacker, who was ultimately shot and killed by police, was named the Miami Zombie

Additional incidents of bath salt use that have reached the media include a mother, who claiming her child to be a demon, left him in the middle of a highway; a man who repeatedly cut himself to remove supposed wires from his body; and a 21-year-old man who shot himself after experiencing three days of intense hallucinations, psychosis, and paranoia. 

Popular Names of Bath Salts

Bath salts are sold in a variety of forms and under many different names. Common street names for bath salts, as listed by the Drug Enforcement Agency, include the following: 

Bath salts are a toxic substance. The sooner you can access medical care for someone overdosing on them, the less harmful the overdose may be.

  • Flakka 
  • Pure Ivory 
  • Bliss
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Drone 
  • Meow Meow
  • Blue Silk
  • Drone
  • Energy-1 
  • Snow Leopard
  • Cloud Nine
  • Lunar Wave
  • Ivory Wave 
  • Purple Wave
  • Ocean Burst 
  • White Dove
  • Red Dove
  • Stardust 
  • White Lightning
  • White Knight 

Bath salts are often marketed by illicit providers as bath salts, research chemicals, plant food, or glass cleaner. Marketing the substances in this way is considered an attempt to avoid law enforcement and the Controlled Substances Act. 

Of note, bath salts as a drug have no relation to the types of bath salts used for soaking in a bath.

Why Bath Salts Are So Dangerous 

As unregulated and synthetically produced substances, bath salts are highly dangerous. They are illegal to produce and use in the United States and have no recognized medical purpose. There are no systems in place to control the quality of bath salts produced. 

Bath salts are frequently marketed as a cheap alternative to other drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA. They can be at least 10 times more potent than those drugs, however, which many users may be unaware of. Likewise, bath salts may be laced with other substances, such as fentanyl, a highly potent and dangerous opioid. 

Synthetic cathinones (bath salts) are addictive, explains the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Bath salt use can lead to intense and uncontrollable cravings for the drug, followed by highly uncomfortable mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal when use is suddenly stopped. 

Symptoms of a Bath Salts Overdose

Bath salts cause serious effects on the mind and body. When taken unknowingly in combination with other drugs or in too great of doses on their own, bath salts can lead to overdose. 

The effects of bath salts on the body include the following: 

  • Impaired muscle and body control
  • Increased body temperature and blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat and chest pains
  • Bloody nose
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Seizure and stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Swelling of the brain

Bath salts can also lead to excited delirium, which causes users to become severely dehydrated. Muscle tissue can then break down, followed by kidney failure, and death. 

Many effects of bath salt use can indicate an overdose and must be addressed immediately. 

Mental Effects of Bath Salt Use

While the desired effects of bath salt use may be a sense of euphoria or out-of-body experience, terrifying psychological effects can also occur. Short-term effects of bath salts that typically last three to four hours include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Panic attack
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Inability to sleep
  • Depression and suicidal ideation 
  • Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations 
  • Psychosis and distorted sense of reality
  • Inability to think clearly

Bath salts can cause individuals to act in ways entirely unlike themselves. Many deaths, homicides, and murders have been attributed to bath salt use, explain experts at Nemours Children’s Health. Overdose and long-term side effects can happen with even just one use of bath salts, as can addiction with repeated use. 

What to Do for Someone Overdosing on Bath Salts 

Someone overdosing on bath salts requires immediate medical attention. Due to the ingredients in bath salts, users are at risk for developing serious behavioral and physiological symptoms that can lead to organ failure and death. Likewise, other symptoms of a bath salts overdose, including high blood pressure, heart attack, seizure, and stroke, can be fatal. 

There are not currently any medications specifically approved for the treatment of a bath salts overdose. Experts recommend primarily supportive treatments to address the specific symptoms the individual is presenting with. Being aware of the potential complications of a bath salts overdose can also help providers more effectively assist the individual. 

If you are with someone who is overdosing on bath salts, stay calm. Call 911 and stay with the person until emergency medical help arrives. By staying with the individual, you help to ensure their psychological and physical safety. If the person is unconscious, gently place them on their side and ensure that their airway is open, and they can continue to breathe easily. 

Do not attempt to make the person vomit or give them anything to eat or drink. If there are extra bath salts or other substances the person consumed, bring them with you to the hospital or give them to emergency responders. 

Bath salts are a toxic substance. The sooner you can access medical care for someone overdosing on them, the less harmful the overdose may be. Don’t delay in seeking help.

Updated March 21, 2024
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