Bath salts. In another time, they would sound harmless and a little bit peculiar. A far different beast from the Epsom salts used for an improved bathing experience, this term has come to be used as a catch-all for a family of synthetic drugs that attempt to recreate the high found in cathinone, naturally occurring in the Khat plant. These are no joke, and as rising numbers of destroyed families will report, must be taken seriously before they can be stopped.

What They Are: Sold in small plastic packages with a legal waiver that they are not for human consumption, bath salts are white or brown crystals that can also be found under a number of other misleading labels, including plant food, jewelry cleaner, or phone screen cleaner. They are found in drug paraphernalia stores and online—this isn’t something you could pick up accidentally at the grocery store! They are generally taken orally or inhaled, or even injected: the latter two have the worst effects on users.

The Side Effects: The intended high of these synthetic cathinones can produce feelings of euphoria, social joy, and a boosted sex drive, typically lasting for several hours. However, this brief high can also lead into extreme levels of paranoia and agitation, hallucinatory delirium and psychotic or violent breaks where there were not psychotic tendencies reported earlier. Deaths have also been reported for users on multiple occasions, and it can cause long-term negative effects on the skeletal muscle tissue and possible kidney failure.

History of Bath Salts: This is a relatively new drug threat in the United States, and was initially sold as a legal and safe alternative over other illegal drugs.  The instances of hospital visits, suicides and other deaths related to this drug have risen sharply in the past several years, prompting a government response at last. It was placed on emergency ban by the DEA in 2011, and was declared illegal permanently in a Schedule I classification in 2012. Many manufacturers are working to get around the chemical specifications of the drugs illegality, by producing slightly different drugs with the same dangerous side effects.

Addiction and Other Dangers: As these synthetic cathinones are still relatively new to the market, there is still a lot of research to be done on the addictive properties of the drug. However, early research does show that synthetic cathinones have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Studies of rats have shown withdrawal symptoms and the cravings of bath salts users is nearly identical to the addiction found in users of methamphetamines. Using synthetic cathinones regularly will lead to a tolerance of the drug, and in turn, dependence and withdrawal.

Help with Addiction to Bath Salts

If you’ve taken these synthetic cathinones and are experiencing addiction and withdrawal, the New Jersey Detox Center at Discovery is here to work with you through the healing process. Call us at 800-714-2175 today to learn more and to schedule an appointment with one of our many qualified staff members.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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