The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “bath salts” are used as a street term for synthetic cathinone, part of a group of drugs called “new psychoactive substances.” Cathinone is a stimulant drug that originates from the khat plant that grows in parts of Africa and the Middle East, and bath salts created are supposed to “mimic” this chemical, but produce stronger effects and are more dangerous. “Bath salts” are the name used because the crystals of this drug represent Epsom salt, and they are also known as Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, Flakka, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Doves Red, and more. There is not one drug associated with bath salt – and it contains chemicals that are marketed as cheap substitutes to methamphetamine and cocaine. Bath salts are very addictive, and can be very dangerous. WebMD notes that bath salts are not literally what we put in our baths – that is just the street term used.

According to New York University in 2016, bath salts are common chemicals used in Molly, also known as Ecstasy or MDMA. These Ecstasy pills are often used by people at dances, parties or raves and are usually told they are “pure” MDMA powder, although that is rarely the case. When this happens, consumers are at substantial risk for poisoning and even death.

Bath salts can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. They directly affect the central nervous system, resulting in an overproduction of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for sending pleasure and happy feelings, and norepinephrine is responsible for the body’s reaction to stress. When a person takes bath salts, they may experience agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, increased pulse, high blood pressure, and suicidal thinking/behavior. A common synthetic cathinone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP), affects the brain like the way cocaine does, but is at least 10 times more powerful than cocaine. This means that bath salts are highly addictive – many people report uncontrollable urges after use. Strong withdrawal symptoms may be present, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, and tremors.

Although there is no current medication used to treat those with bath salt addiction, initial assessment and potential enrollment into a physician-assisted withdrawal management program is crucial. Benzodiazepines have been known to assist with cravings, anxiety, and other potential side effects of withdrawal. From there, formal addiction therapy is important. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help a person reframe their thoughts and behaviors. Bath salts are very addictive and extremely dangerous. Avoid taking these drugs at all costs – doing so could save your life.







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