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Bath Salts

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Bath Salts

bath-salts-04‘Bath salts’ is a term that was coined to describe a group of synthetic drugs designed to all produce the same high.  Bath salts are often synthetic cathinones, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), although other chemical compounds such as mephedrone may also be used.  The chemical compositions of synthetic cathinones have a similar stimulant effect on users to amphetamines and are considered to be powerfully addictive. They are classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, in the same category as heroin, LSD or ecstasy. These drugs can be very harmful and due to the fact that their creation is unregulated there is no guarantee as to what makes them up.

The Bath Salts originates from the packaging once used to disguise the drugs for sale, as dealers once placed the drugs into packaging used for true bath salts, such as Epsom salt. In some instances, the drugs may also be disguised as plant food, cleaning products, or other similar products with a white powdered or crystalline appearance.

Taking bath salts can produce feelings of euphoria, increased alertness, anxiety, and agitation. Elevated body temperature and dizziness are also common effects. However, abusing bath salts can also produce severe negative side effects, which include headaches, extreme aggression, psychotic delusions, violent psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts and attempts, heart palpitations, heart attack, liver failure, and kidney failure.

Street Names for Bath Salts 

Bath salts are actually a group of designer drugs created synthetically to try and mimic the effects of illegal drugs and pass as being legal. Different forms of Bath Salts have different street names and there are always new forms of the drug popping up.  

Some of the street names include Arctic Blast, Bayou Ivory Flower, Bloom, Blue Magic, Blue Silk, Bolivian Bath, Mystic, Ocean Snow, Pure White, Ivory Wave, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, and Scarface, among many others.  When they were first made available to the public, they were referred to as “bath salts” so that they could be sold legally, but are a chemical substance never intended for that purpose.

 As the United States law enforcement and drug enforcement agencies caught on to this thinly veiled way of hiding them in plain sight, they were marketed as jewelry cleaner or plant food or cell phone screen cleaner in an effort to continue to circumvent restrictions and keep them on the market.  They are sold everywhere from gas stations to drug paraphernalia stores, or head shops, and many individuals don’t realize the dangers that using them encompasses.

Common Forms of Bath Salts and How to Identify Them

Different forms of the drugs come in white, off white, or a very light yellow, depending on the exact mix or particular branding.  The powder resembles cocaine or heroin for those that are familiar with those illegal substances and many drug users are attracted to bath salts because of the similarities while still being able to legally purchase the designer drug.  This is one of the major issues with designer drugs, the easy and legal availability of the substance, which allows and encourages people who may not purchase an illegal street drug to do virtually the same thing with designer drugs that are skirting the legal system.

Drug Class

Bath salts are classified as hallucinogenic in nature.  They cause paranoid delusions in those who use them as well as visions. Bath salts are made from synthetic chemicals that emulate the stimulant found naturally in the khat plant.  The ingredients are related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which can raise heart rates to dangerous and even deadly levels.  This can be caused by the particular mix of the drug a person takes, the amount a person takes, or underlying health issues they already have as part of their personal makeup.

In many instances, drug and law enforcement agencies have to play catch up when it comes to designer drugs as they hit the streets and are “hidden” through packaging, branding, and deceptive descriptions.  

Per the United States Drug Enforcement Agency website (DEA.gov), on Friday, October 21, 2011, DEA published a final order in the Federal Register exercising its emergency scheduling authority to control three synthetic stimulants that are used to make bath salts, including: Mephedrone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone. Except as authorized by law, this action makes possessing and selling these chemicals, or the products that contain them, illegal in the United States.

How are Bath Salts Used?

Bath Salts are typically administered orally, by injection or by inhalation. The most dangers forms of use have been proven to be the methods of snorting and injecting because it overwhelms the blood stream quickly and can often result in overdose.

Effects of Bath Salts Bath Salts Effects

Bath salts can be used in a variety of ways, the most common being sniffing or snorting.  Bath salts can also be added to a solution and injected.  Additionally, they can be taken by mouth or smoked as well.  This again mirrors cocaine and heroin and why the drug is both so attractive to users and so addicting as well.  Setting aside the actual side effects of the drug, snorting, smoking, and injecting substances into your body have health risks of their own, including transmitting diseases and causing many types of infections.  Snorting can severely damage nasal canals and smoking can cause both throat and lung damage.  The harm using the drug in these ways can do can often be irreversible.

Bath salts can have effects on both a person’s body and mind.  These effects include insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions as well as chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.  Thorough, long-term studies have not had time to be completed as of yet, however, bath salts could possibly have the same effects on the brain as crystal meth or ecstasy, both of which have shared properties with the family of designer drugs.

Short Term Effects of Bath Salt Use 

Bath salts, along with being hallucinogenic are also stimulants which can extremely rapid heart rates causing heart attacks in users.  Users of bath salts feel the same rush type of high that meth and cocaine user experience, giving them a burst of energy while also agitating them, which can cause them to lash out or be involved in destructive behavior.  At the same time, abusers of bath salts enter a state of euphoria, feeling that nothing they do is wrong, which is a dangerous combination with the other immediate effects.  When a person feels invincible, highly energized, and agitated, all at the same time, there is no end to the amount of trouble they can get in, to say the least.

Effects of Long-Term Bath Salts Use 

First, bath salts are addictive, and can have the same negative effects on an individual’s life that addiction to any substance can have:  loss of employment, damaged relationships, and serious financial problems.  When a person is addicted to any drug, the longer they abuse the substance the more tolerant they usually become, which leads to them needing more of the drug to get high.  There is usually no plateau; which means individuals stop using and seek treatment, or overdose and are forced to stop using, or in the worst of cases, die.  Being addicted to a drug can easily take over a person’s life to the point where they know nothing else except finding and acquiring their drug of choice and getting high.  All other life responsibilities go by the wayside as their drug of choice takes over their life.

Dangers of Using Bath Salts

Besides addiction, abuse of bath salts can cause dangerously erratic behavior, similar to other stimulants.  The mood disorders that can develop can include depression, which can lead to thoughts or attempts at suicide.  Also, because bath salts are stimulants, habitual use can lead to the development of psychoses and various mood disorders.   Those who abuse bath salts can enter a state referred to as “excited delirium” from taking the designer drug and can also experience dehydration, breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, and kidney failure. Ultimately, one of the biggest dangers to users is the fact that they do not know what they are getting.  They do not know what mix is used for what version of bath salts, how high the concentration of the main ingredients is, or what else has been added to the drug as a filler or cutting agent. 

Mixing Bath Salts and Other Drugs

As is the case with combinations of other, illegal drugs, such as cocaine and alcohol, bath salts are often combined with other synthetic or designer drugs, either by dealers or users themselves.  “Molly,” a drug often used at clubs or raves and marketed as a form of ecstasy, has be known to be laced with bath salts in order to increase potency.  This process also increases the chances of overdoses, including those resulting in a user’s death.

Bath Salts Addiction and Abuse Rates

The drugs which fall under the category of Bath Salts were responsible for over 23,000 ER visits in 2013. However, it can be difficult for doctors to pinpoint in patients who overdose or patients who took to the drug unknowingly if they were actually bath salts because their chemical makeup varies drastically.  If doctors don’t know what the drug is made of they can’t test for it in patients systems. For this reason many individuals take them and abuse them because they can be difficult to detect in drug tests. The chemicals most known to be found in Bath Salts are highly addictive and are concentrates of some of the most dangerous drugs out.

Best Treatment Abuse and Addiction

Bath Salts are alike many designer drugs in that their composition isn’t completely known. Researchers do know that some components are highly addictive which could leave individuals dependent on Bath Salts after just a few uses. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a Bath Salts addiction or abusing this drug, inpatient treatment centers that provide a holistic approach to recovery can provide the necessary care needed to break free from the chemical dependence. Breaking the physical and mental addiction as well as understanding why drug abuse began in the first place is a large part of recovery. Additionally, treatment centers that take a holistic approach often help patients build self-confidence and self-efficiency helping them to avoid relapse as well more invested in a healthy lifestyle. Treatment centers for bath salts abuse may also have outpatient programs if needed. Read more on Bath Salts treatment at Bath Salts Rehab.

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