Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 25th, 2018.
What are bath salts?
As the name indicates, Bath salts are nothing like a hygiene product. Bath salts are central nervous system stimulant that inhibits the norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake system and can lead to serious, and even fatal adverse reactions. The most commonly reported ingredient in “bath salts” is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), although other stimulants may be present, such as mephedrone and pyrovalerone. Mephedrone has a high potential for overdose.
They are also called as Psychoactive Bath salts (PABS) and is an abusive drug that can cause dangerous intoxication. This drug is so effective that people crave more for its use and it produce severe stimulant effects.
What are the other names of baths salts?
Bath salts are also available under the names:
- Blue silk
- Ivory Wave
- Purple Wave
- Red Dove
- White Lightning
- Cloud Nine
- Or many other names
There are many chemicals that make bath salts, such as mephedrone, pyrovalerone and methyldioxyprovalerone. Injecting or snorting of bath salts produces its most dangerous effects. There are dozens of other chemicals also be used for the making of bath salts but these three are most common. This makes treatment in the case of overdose or adverse effects very difficult.
These are very strong stimulants and can be used by the person who uses cocaine or methamphetamine. These substances trigger intense cravings and are strongly addictive. These are so addictive that even a person who sees that they are experiencing harm from abuse of these drugs may not be able to stop himself.
Why are they called “bath salts?”
While the true origins of the name remain unclear, the euphemistic name is likely intended to make the drug sound innocuous and easier to distribute. The name may also come from the resemblance the white crystals share with legal bath products, such as Epsom salts.
How do bath salts work?
Methylenedioxypyrovalerone is structurally related to methylenedioxymethamphetamine and cathinone derivative which is schedule 1 listed hallucinogenic substance and schedule 1 stimulant.Bath salts like other stimulants, affects neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin.
Administration of methylenedioxypyrovalerone (bath salts) increases the levels of extracellular dopamine after 60 minutes. Molecules of the drug attach themselves to the proteins in the brain that clear up the excess neurotransmitters and, therefore, disrupt brain systems that control mood, pleasure, movement and cognition.
Bath salts were easily accessible in stores, gas stations, over the internet and in smoke shops. Bath salts packets are sold for $20 per package which contains 200 to 500 milligrams of foil packages of white, off-white or slightly yellow colored powder called bath salts. These packages are specially labeled as “not for human consumption”.
Bath salts are also known as legal cocaine and are produce the effects like methamphetamine (the most dangerous addictive substance known). Bath salt users usually snort the drug intra nasally, but it can also been injected, smoked, orally ingested or used rectally. The average doses range from 5 to 20 milligram but one can see the effects in doses as low as 3 t 5 milligrams.
The packages of bath salts are available in 500 milligrams packages therefore the risk of overdose is very high. The peak absorption of this drug is in 1.5 hours after oral administration and the effects lasts for 3 to 4 hours and sometimes up to 8 hours.
Reports from emergency departments note that “bath salt” use can lead to sympathetic nervous system effects such as tachycardia (fast heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), and seizures (convulsions).
Death has been reported. Altered mental status may present as severe panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and violent behavior (including self-mutilation, suicide attempts and homicidal activity).
The prevalence of bath salts use
Although the recreational use of synthetic cathinones is not new (e.g. methcathinone in the ex-Soviet Union in 1970s and 1980s and in the United States in 1990s), information about the currently prevalence of synthetic cathinones misuse in the population are very limited.
The emergence of six synthetic cathinones, all closely related to pyrovalerone, was reported in Germany between 1997 and 2004, but the use of Google Insights, an internet application used to track search terms, shows almost no searches for synthetic cathinones before 2008.
A significant increase of searches there was between 2009 and 2010 when the United Kingdom Poison Information Service received a number of inquiries regarding synthetic cathinones comparable to those for cocaine and MDMA.
A Finnish study which analyzed blood from suspected by police to drive under the effect of drugs found that 286 of 3000 specimens submitted for analysis contained 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) (8.6%).
An Irish study which analyzed urine samples collected from patients receiving methadone maintenance found that 14% were positive to mephedrone and 3% were positive to methylone. A self-report study on students of UK high school and college revealed that 20% had used mephedrone on at least one occasion, 4% reported daily use, and all daily users were under 21 years of age.
An online survey of club-goers in the UK found that 41% had used methedrone and 10% had used methylone. A third had used methedrone in the last month and 14% reported weekly assumption
In an online survey conducted in late 2010 in collaboration with the UKs dance music magazine Maxmag, mephedrone was the fourth most-commonly used drug in the past year after cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine and it had been tried by 61% of respondents (EMCDDA, 2012). The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 303 calls related to synthetic cathinones in 2010 and 6072 in 2011 (aapcc, 2012).
Although limited, prevalence data currently available show a progressive increase in the spread of these substances justifying the concerns in the fields of drug policy, forensic toxicology and public health.
Why people abuse bath salts?
People abuse bath salts because they produce feelings and sensations such as euphoria, increased energy, increased libido, and heightened alertness. Such sensations can be pleasurable to users and they develop addiction to this drug promptly. People who often abuse cocaine are more prone to get addicted to bath salts, due to its more stimulant activities.
Are bath salts more addictive than methamphetamine?
Bath salts contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone which pose greater risk of abuse as compared to methamphetamine as per studies and researches. Bath salts are more effective, more pleasurable and thereby more addictive than methamphetamine.
Methylenedioxypyrovalerone present in bath salts is derived from cathinone. Cathinone is a stimulant drug which is also found in a plant called khat. And for centuries, khat has been used as a recreational drug.
The common stimulant effects that are produced by bath salts and which are more prominent than methamphetamine are euphoria, increased physical activity, insomnia or complete inability to sleep, and decreased appetite. It has been also reported than people who abuse this drug crave more for its use.
What are health hazards of bath salts?
The pharmacological activity of bath salts can result in serious and dangerous adverse effects which may prove fatal. It stimulates the central nervous system by inhibiting the norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake system. Some actual side effects include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), vessel constriction, muscle spasm/tremor, and seizures.
Higher doses can lead to behavioral and psychiatric effects such as severe panic attacks, psychosis (hallucinations, delusions), paranoia, agitation, insomnia (inability to sleep), irritability, and violent behavior. Bath salts related deaths and overdose of bath salts that prove fatal have been reported.
Bath salts contains methylenedioxypyrovalerone is present in bath salts which is extremely addictive and dangerous therefore this drug have been entered in schedule 1 list of controlled substances. These substances cannot be prescribed for medical purpose. Even the laws put a ban on the chemical that produce similar effects like bath salts. Possessing or selling these chemicals or any product that contains them is illegal in the US.
Care of patients with an overdose may require admission to the intensive care unit, use of intravenous sedatives, antipsychotics, and/or restraints, or other measures to protect the patient and healthcare providers from harm.
Rhabdomyolysis (the destruction of muscle fibers and the release of myoglobin, a protein, into the bloodstream that may lead to kidney damage) may occur, as well. Supportive care is given in overdose cases as there is no known antidote.
Bath salts routes of use and risk of overdose
When PABS are taken orally, intranasally, intravenously, or rectally, their effects occur with doses as low as 3 to 5 mg, and the average dose ranges from 5 to 20 mg. The synthetic cathinones are most commonly nasally insufflated or ingested.
“Bombing” is a method of ingestion whereby mephedrone powder is wrapped in cigarette paper and swallowed. “Keying” is the practice of dipping a key into powder and then insufflating. There are approximately five to eight “keys” per gram.
Rectal administration, gingival delivery, inhalation, and intramuscular or intravenous injection have also been described. Additionally, multiple concomitant routes of administration are reported. Selfreported doses range from a few milligrams to over 1 g of powder. Users cannot be certain of the actual contents or the purity of the drug, therefore actual exposure is highly variable.
Mephedrone users report the onset of psychoactive effects after insufflation to be 10–20 min with an expected duration of effect of about 1–2 h; onset after oral ingestion is approximately 15–45 min with duration of 2–4 h. Intravenous users report symptoms peaking at 10–15 min with a 30 min duration of desired effects
The risk of overdose is high, since packages contain as much as 500 mg, and some labels suggest escalating the dose to more than 50 mg
What are short-term effects of Bath salts?
The full effects of bath salts are not exactly known as it is a street name for a new drug in illicit market. A doctor or a medical professional may not be aware of the reason behind full-blown delusion that occurs after ingestion of bath salts and also he may not know what treatment he should adopt or what to do next.
Because newest tests only determine the fourteen common chemicals that used in addictive drugs formulas, the drug tests may not determine the involvement of the bath salts in the adverse effects that occurred. The drug testing is even more difficult because these small packets may include around eighty chemicals.
Usually, the effects of bath salts last for three to four hours after ingestion, but some effects such as hypertension, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), another stimulant effects may last longer.
- In some people, high doses cause intense and severe panic attacks. This drug tends to disrupt sleep due to its stimulant properties. It has so awakening properties that one may suffer from sleep-deprivation psychosis. Another likely effect is a severe addiction.
- Mental effects are euphoria, alertness, anxiety and agitation, excessive hunger. He may have a headache, tense muscles, increased body temperature, nosebleeds and dilated pupils. Some milder effects are dizziness, confusion, and grinding of teeth.
- Some serious effects are fits, hallucinations, aggression, suicidal thoughts or attempts and psychotic delusions. At a physical level, one can also suffer from liver failure, kidney failure, loss of bowel control and rhabdomyolysis (a spontaneous breakdown of muscle fiber that can lead to death).
What are the long-term effects of bath salts?
Bath salts come under a group of drugs called cathinones which are a class of stimulants that causes aggression and hallucinations. One or more of these substances are packaged in small foil packages and labeled “bath salts, for a soothing bath, not for human consumption.” The most common drugs to be included are mephedrone, methylone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).
Bath salts were legal and sold very conveniently in medical stores and over the counter as bath salts or plant food. The effects of this drug are so severe that it is banned from the market months ago but it is still available online and people use it, even without proper knowledge of its dangerous effects.
The harm caused by Bath Salts can be long-term and permanent, including:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Kidney damage and failure
- Liver damage
- Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue (muscles that bring about the movement of the bones of the skeleton)
- Brain swelling and brain death
The most addictive substance in bath salts is MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone), which is more addictive than methamphetamine (one of the most addictive drug around) as per a study found in 2013. The severe effects of methylenedioxypyrovalerone last for more than six hours after use, and also it is known to cause prolonged and severe panic attacks, psychosis and deaths.
How long do bath salts stay in your system?
Drug laboratories are now offering specialized synthetic cathinone testing due to the sudden increase in bath salt usage and frequent availability of this drug. These specialized tests are able to detect the cathinones (found in bath salts) after 48-72 hours of bath salt use.
It means that bath salts stays for 48 to 72 hours in your system. You should take the one you know who may have administered this drug, to the nearby drug laboratories to find out the suspect. A normal or a standard drug test will not be able to detect the drug.
How long effects of bath salts last?
The effects of bath salts last for 3 to 4 hours before the user has a potentially harsh crash. The total experience occurs over 6 to 8 hours.
Why is drug testing for bath salts difficult?
Bath salts are a relatively new drug and most standard drug tests are not able to detect the ingredients and synthetic cathinones found in the drug. People are often drawn to the drug, due to the difficulty to detect bath salts in standard drug tests.
Are bath salts legal?
Bath salts were legal and unscheduled primarily because no one used them and they were sold legally over the counter. This prompted a wave of drugs to hit the streets. In order to avoid issues with FDA, they were sold as “bath salts” or “plant food”. Many of them are labeled as “Not for human consumption”.
They have names like Purple Wave and White Lightning, and they may be called plant food, incense, or jewelry cleaner. Majority of the states now made them illegal, still they are regularly purchased online. However, the ban from all state governments is an urgent requirement in order to stop the usage of bath salt completely.
What are the signs and symptoms of bath salts use?
The newest drug that hot to the street is “Bath salts”. As the name indicates, this drug has nothing to do with bathing; they are called so because they are packaged as a product “for a soothing bath, not for the human consumption”.
Bath salts are now illegal in Unites States; therefore they are sold more secretly. Before the drugs making up bath salts were illegal, this kept sellers from having the drugs confiscated. Bath salts can be ingested, injected or snorted. As an evidence of bath salts consumption, small foil packages are often left behind.
There have been serious and even fatal results from using bath salts.
Signs of bath salts use include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Chest pains
- Increased heart rate
- Kidney pain
- Increased body temperature or chills
- Muscle tension
- Reduced need for food or sleep
- Suicidal ideas
The ingestion of bath salts may cause excessive heat and the person who is taking this drug can overheat and tear of their clothing trying to cool off. An individual can be aggressive, uncontrolled attacks on others, or self-destruction due to paranoia caused by bath salts. The effects are so severe that the individual are often unresponsive to any commands to stop their actions. Sometimes pepper spray or stun guns are also became ineffective.
In many cases in the United States and the United Kingdom, the signs of bath salts abuse included acts of violence that ended in the death of multiple people or suicide attempts. There are many incidents are given which shows the severe and dangerous effects on many people are given that shows that the use of bath salts is very dangerous.
This drug can trigger a violent and suicidal behavior due to paranoia and delusions associated with this drug and make the drug abuser is completely dissociated from reality.
Bath salts addiction
There is currently no focused research on the addiction potential or withdrawal syndromes related to synthetic cathinones. A survey of 1,500 mephedrone users found that over 50% consider it to be addictive. In a telephone survey of 100 mephedrone users, nearly half reported continuous use for more than 48 h.
Over 30% reported having more than three of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual IV criteria for dependence including increased tolerance, continuing to take despite having problems with use and impaired control of use. Fifteen percent reported that friends or family had expressed concern over their mephedrone use.
In a Scottish survey of 1,006 students, daily use was reported 4.4% of users, all of whom were less than 21 years of age. The highest frequency of daily use was in the 11–15-year age group. In the same study, 17.5% of users reported “addiction/dependence” symptoms. One case report describes a patient who fulfilled criteria for addiction to mephedrone after 18 months of daily use.
Users describe strong cravings to repeat or increase doses after taking mephedrone. Users describe this feeling as the drug being very “moreish”, meaning that it causes the user to want to ingest more shortly after use, and call taking multiple doses in succession “fiending”.
A physical withdrawal syndrome has not been reported although users report feelings of depression and anxiety at the end of use. In one study, 25% of users reported urges or cravings to continue using
What are the withdrawal symptoms of bath salts?
Withdrawal symptoms occur when someone has come off the drug that may be due to detoxification or a long time without a drug. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms of the bath salts depends upon the time period for which a person using bath salts.
Therefore it is important that a patient reduce the intake of the drug gradually, in some detoxification programs. The drug should always be reduced gradually to zero instead to stop abruptly which may cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
Common symptoms of bath salts addiction withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Inability to concentrate
- Decreased memory
- Nasal congestion
- Violent behavior
- Long but poor quality sleep
How to deal with the signs of addiction of the bath salts?
A person can suffer from serious physical damage, just like in case of a New Orleans woman, who lost her arm, shoulder, breast and other tissue after injecting bath salts into her forearm which setup a chain reaction of tissue death.
- It is very important to seek professional help if anybody in the family sees any sign of bath salt abuse because the drug abuser and people around him are at risk when this drug is being abused.
- A patient may feel himself helpless in ceasing the addiction of the bath salts, in such case; a family member should take him to the addiction treatment program at the very first possible movement.
- One should never take chances with this drug.
How to treat bath salt abuse and addiction?
The person who abuse bath salts usually receives the treatment protocol that is given to the people with other substance use disorders. Generally, these individuals are diagnosed with a stimulant use disorder or some other specific form of substance use disorder. Here is the treatment protocol is given for such kind of addiction:
- An initial assessment: Patient should be properly assessed at the starting of the treatment, which should include complete physical workup, psychiatric evaluation, and evaluation of individual’s living conditions. This information about patient will be helpful in finding the areas that need to be addressed.
- Probable enrollment in a physician-assisted withdrawal management program: It is advisable to give benzodiazepines to the patient that will help in treating the cravings, anxiety, potential seizures, or convulsions that may occur during withdrawal of the bath salts. However, there are no specific medications are given in order to treat the withdrawal symptoms associated with bath salts addiction. Other medications can also be given to treat other symptoms that may occur during treatment. An inpatient withdrawal management program is recommended for the patients who develop seizures or other serious conditions.
- Formal addiction therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered for formal addiction therapy which is given in individual sessions. It can be given in group sessions or sometimes in both. Patient should consider the fact that the therapy is the backbone of any recovery program.
- Positive Support: The long-term recovery can be achieved with the help of support of peer group, encouragement and support from family and friends. Social support groups, such as 12-Step groups, can greatly help those in recovery to form support networks.
Simple detoxification program completion is not enough for the treatment of the withdrawal of the bath salts addiction, but it is very important to get a physician assisted withdrawal management program. You should consider the involvement in long-term treatment programs which include therapy and social support.
Bath salts high experience
I live in California, where Bath Salts are slowly gaining popularity by word of mouth rather than actual experience. I decided I’d experiment with the drug myself. My first time was at 8:00 PM. I snorted a very, very skinny line about the length of my pinky finger, using up less than 1/4 of the powder that was originally in the container. If I was to do a line this size of say, MDMA or cocaine, I probably would have felt little, if any effects at all. MDPV surprised me though, within minutes I began to feel slightly lightheaded and concentrated (similar to cocaine) and my heart rate began to increase. I listened to music for the first half hour of the experience, which really amplified the euphoric effect in my opinion and made me feel a strong urge to dance.
Within only about 20 minutes of my first hit, the euphoria quickly switched to a feeling of paranoia as my heartbeat continued to increase to the point that it was all I could concentrate on. I felt like my heart was about to explode and it only got FASTER as time went on. My concentration that I was in so much control of before had been lost, I tried concentrating on the television in front of me and the sounds and people around me, but I couldn’t, all I could think about was my heartbeat, I thought I would surely die. I threw the rest of the bath salts away and felt skittish for the rest of the day. It took about 4 hours for me to feel any sort of relief from the paranoia, but my heart continued to beat irregularly fast even throughout the following day.
I don’t plan on doing Bath Salts again. If you decide to try this stuff, know that you’re taking a risk and be prepared for the possibility of a panic attack, even in small doses.
Do bath salts show up on standard drug tests?
Bath salts are often comprised of substances which are very similar to amphetamines. In most bath salts, the common substance is methylenedioxypyravalerone. The unique characteristic of this drug s difficult detection. It’s not something that routine blood or routine urine test will pick up. In order to test positive for this drug, a more comprehensive urine or hair analysis will have to be done.
It is only by using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This type of test doesn’t just look for the presence of a specific drug; it looks for the presence of a certain type of drug. That makes detection much more difficult to do. Slowly but surely, the laboratory testing is catching up with this specific designer drug.
If bath salts are laced with something else, there is a chance it will give a positive for another type of drug such as PCP. As tests are catching up, the street chemists are changing the chemical composition of the drug making it more difficult to detect or to know what kind of reaction it will cause within the human body.