Bath salts are widely considered to be one of the more dangerous drugs to come into existence, but what enhances these dangers is the legality of bath salts. These drugs can be easily purchased at gas stations or smoke shops because they are intended for as their name indicates—as bath salts. Bath salts are infamous for their zombie-like effects that you’ve seen on local news channels, and the portrayals are hardly exaggerated. The drugs are a loosely defined term due to the lack of defined chemical structures, and they often present an inability to be proven in cases because of this.
Bath salts have become a major public health threat across the United States in recent years. The case reports have shown the use of these drugs cause severe psychiatric symptoms that could be potentially fatal. The individuals who abuse these drugs range from teenagers to adults in their 40s.
Bath salts are considered stimulants that also possess hallucinogenic properties. They cause devastating effects that can make users lose their minds. Bath salts can create shocking acts of violence in a user that cause injuries resulting in death. One of the more gruesome stories about this drug was the instance in 2012 when a naked man ate the face of a Miami homeless man. Due to these unprecedented actions directly correlated to bath salts, it’s time to start paying more attention to stopping the influx of these drugs.
These drugs are unpredictable and dangerous. These have the potential to put not just who use, but those around them as well in potential danger. If you currently have a substance use disorder involving bath salts, scroll down to learn more about the signs of bath salts addiction, and how this is treated.
The compound MDPV, mephedrone, and methylone are synthetic cathinones that share many similarities with amphetamines and cocaine. The problem with bath salts is that the chemical structure is constantly being altered to skirt around the law. Once a specific compound becomes outlawed, chemists often “tweak” the chemical to make it technically legal. By doing so, this can change how it affects the user in a horrendous fashion. The psychoactive substances found in these drugs can be found in the khat plant, and are intended to mimic illegal drugs.
Cathinones are stimulants that were created to mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. In part, they were designed to be a less expensive alternative for people to consume. These are produced in clandestine labs and are packaged to replicate products like bath salts to get around regulations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Like other stimulants, bath salts are highly addictive. They work just as other stimulants do by affective dopamine in the brain. Dopamine plays a role in your brain for affecting the mood and reward centers, and when they are released active motivation, excitement, energy, and even arousal. MDPV is a cathinone found in bath salts that causes neurotransmitters to stimulate dopamine, but when it is no longer needed, MDPV blocks reuptake and leaves dopamine to bind to more sites.
Bath salts can be extremely addictive, and the experience of using them is intense. Because of this, frequent use is discouraged. It causes paranoia, anxiety, and frightening hallucinations, but during a drug binge, these feelings are ignored, so the use of bath salts continues.
Addiction to bath salts is not as common because of unpleasant side effects that are associated with their use. While there is euphoria that comes along with the high, these are grossly outweighed by paranoia and anxiety.
Even with the terrible side effects that are at play when consuming these drugs, individuals still run great risks of becoming dependent because of how cathinones affect the brain. This is how they tie into dopamine and rewards. Studies on rats have shown a correlation between the rewarding effects that ultimately lead to addiction.LEARN MORE – ADDICTION
One of the first signs of addiction is drug tolerance. This could be an indicator that drug usage is turning into an actual substance use disorder. Tolerance happens when a dose of drugs you use is no longer effective, and the body requires more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. This is evident in most drugs consumed, and bath salts are no exception to this.
The following sign of bath salt addiction is a growing dependence. This is when your brain needs the drug to maintain normal life balance. Anytime you cease use of the drugs, you may feel the sensations of withdrawal. Addiction becomes prevalent when using the drug becomes a compulsive act, and you are unable to resist despite the negative consequences. For example, if you have used bath salts and were arrested for your actions but still use, this is a strong indicator of addiction.
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects each who suffers from it differently, but it works the same on everyone it touches. Addiction is all based around the reward center of the brain, and the release of dopamine from drugs like bath salts over time makes the body associate drugs with happiness. Because addiction affects everyone differently, this means the approach to treatment has to be unique. While there are industry standards supported by evidence-based research, this does not indicate a one-size-fits-all solution.
To increase the likelihood of a successful treatment stint, you must seek out a center that offers a unique approach to your needs. A center that has beliefs deeply embedded in evidence-based research is the first place to look. These must offer therapies that are specifically geared toward the treatment of your unique addiction.
Treatment will begin with a medical detoxification that is responsible for removing any and all drugs out of your system. During this phase of treatment, you will be under 24-hour supervision by a trained medical staff. This will ensure your transition into sobriety safely and alleviate the most uncomfortable side effects, which can be traced to withdrawal and getting off drugs.
Some of these symptoms of withdrawal from bath salts can include anxiety, depression, tremors, paranoia, and insomnia. This stage of treatment also will determine any underlying medical condition that could be fueling your drug addiction, and begin formulating a tailor-made plan of therapies in the weeks to come.
Depending on what the team decides based on your needs, you will then be placed in the next level of care. This could be either a residential treatment center where you can expect to stay either 30 days to 90 days, depending on the severity of your addiction. You will attend therapy sessions daily with like-minded individuals who are on the same road to recovery.
If the medical team decides you are stable enough after detox to return home, it likely will recommend that you enroll in outpatient treatment. This means you will still be attending several times a week to therapies and subject to drug testing, but you will be able to go home upon completion of therapies and still have time to tend to personal obligations, such as work or school.
While it is not required, it is highly recommended that the client seek out a post-treatment option. The best treatment centers offer alumni programs that will organize events and give you the phone numbers of others in treatment to keep in touch for sober support. Addiction is a lifelong disease, so the more work you put into treating the addiction, the better the results.
Drugs affect everyone differently, but the problem with bath salts is how the chemical compounds are being regularly altered to avoid new laws on old chemical structures. A product you may have consumed a week before may be an entirely different drug the next time you purchase it, even if it has the same name.
The drug has frightening reactions when consumed such as paranoia, hyperstimulation, and disturbing hallucinations. These particular effects cause the user to disassociate from reality, which could cause a user to literally eat another person’s face.
Individuals who consume bath salts are often seen moving around, running, or pacing in a frenetic manner.
These actions could lead to aggression, though that is not always the case. The most horrific cases come up with inconclusive results in toxicology reports, but in most cases, the person in question was witnessed consuming bath salts.
Watterson, L. R., Kufahl, P. R., Nemirovsky, N. E., Sewalia, K., Grabenauer, M., Thomas, B. F., . . . Olive, M. F. (2012, July 11). Potent rewarding and reinforcing effects of the synthetic cathinone 3,4‐methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1369-1600.2012.00474.x
Exploring the Shocking Bath Salts Induced Crimes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.projectknow.com/exploring-the-shocking-bath-salts-induced-crimes/
Gershman, J. A., & Fass, A. D. (2012, October). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474442/