“Bath salts” is a term that can be used for a range of designer drugs derived from the Khat plant. Since bath salts are so new and vary in their composition, there is not much scientific study of them as of yet. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings have been seen in some cases, however, indicating that they can be addictive and should be treated in the manner of other addictive substances.
Patients will do their detox at a medical facility or treatment center. A “best practice” for the length of a bath salts drug detox has not yet been established because these drugs are so new, but patients should expect this period to last for at least a few days. Patients who still have the drug in their system may be delusional and unable to make rational decisions, so medication will very likely be used to control their symptoms until they come down from the high.
As with all addictive drugs, it is important to detox slowly and gradually so that shock to the body does not occur. Patients will generally be kept on detox until severe psychological symptoms begin to wane and they feel they have some control over cravings. Patients generally then move on to a period of inpatient treatment, especially if an underlying mental illness is contributing to the addiction.
Patients who are abusing bath salts are likely to be in an altered mental state and have limited control over their behavior. Under these conditions, it is extremely dangerous for them to attempt to come down off the drug at home.
Even if the drug is no longer active in the patient’s system, the potent withdrawal symptoms and cravings of an established addiction will likely drive them straight back to using the drug again. It would take a superhuman effort of will to simply quit an addiction “cold turkey”, and for the vast majority of people it is an impossible task.
Detoxing at home can also bring codependent family and friends into the mix. The behavior of people close to the drug user may inadvertently contribute to their abuse and addiction.
Detox is always conducted on a residential basis at a medical facility or a certified treatment center. The patient lives at the facility for a period of a few days or more, and is monitored and treated at all times by the medical staff.
Some inpatient treatment centers have their own detox facilities, but not all do. Those that don’t usually require that a patient has completed detox at a medical facility before they will admit them. Since bath salts put the user in an altered mental state in which they are likely to be a danger to themselves and others, they may need to be locked down in a psychiatric unit while they are coming off of the drug.
Since bath salts are so new, there are currently no specific drugs designed for managing withdrawal. Patients in detox may be given an anti-psychotic medication if their behavior appears likely to cause harm.
Bath salts have potent side effects and symptoms, so a period of inpatient treatment will likely be necessary to ensure the patient detoxes safely and learns how to manage their addiction. The mental health care and attention that patients get at a residential treatment facility is especially important with an addiction to bath salts.
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