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Bath Salts Addiction in Young Adults

We’ve seen them all over the news: the potent, designer drugs called bath salts quickly rose to acclaim as the new “LSD” and rapidly declined after their media dig of turning young adult abusers into savage monsters. But what is the real story behind bath salts? What are they, and how do they affect the body?

As of this July 2015, poison centers had already received reports of 316 bath salts-related incidents in the year alone. This drug trend first surfaced in 2011, and while its demand has depleted in recent years, bath salts are still commonly being abused and easily manufactured by young adults nationwide.

bath salts rehab for teensContrary to their name, bath salts are not bathing products. They are not the Epsom salts you dissolve in your tub. Rather, bath salts are a group of powerful, psychoactive drugs that are highly illegal across the nation. They are a constantly evolving family of substances that contain synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant. While cathinone is naturally found in the khat plant, its synthetic relatives are lab-made: methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone (“Drone,” “Meph,” or “Meow Meow”), and methylone are some of the most common in bath salts. A recent study found that MDPV—the most common synthetic cathinone found in bath salts—is at least 10 times more potent than the stimulant cocaine.

Bath salts can be administered orally, intravenously, or inhaled. The worst outcomes are associated with snorting or needle injection, but most users will take the drug orally.  Taking bath salts orally can delay the onset of their effects for up to an hour and a half after ingestion. The high from bath salts, however, can last up to four hours. The chemicals found in bath salts produce stimulating effects that parallel amphetamines like cocaine or Adderall, but also produce psychedelic effects that match those of ecstasy.

The term “bath salts” was created only for marketing purposes: to deter government authorities away from stopping their sale. The term also reflects their form. Bath salts typically are found as a white or brown crystalline powder, and up until recently, they were sold as legal in gas stations, convenience stores, and internet sites in small foil packages labeled “Not for Human Consumption.” These drugs are now marketed as “jewelry cleaner” or “plant food,” and under brand names like “Cloud Nine” and “Vanilla Sky,” but are still never tested for safety.

Along with K2/Spice, and other synthetic drugs, bath salts were classified as Schedule I drugs and made illegal in 2012. 

Warning Signs of Bath Salts Addiction

Since the recent ban on bath salts, we have undoubtedly seen a decline in bath salts use and addiction. Yet bath salts abuse is still a major area of concern, primarily because they are still easily accessible for adolescents and young adults. As a result, it is extremely important to watch out for warning signs of bath salts abuse. Your teen may be at risk of the detrimental effects of bath salts addiction.

Initially, the synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and an enhanced sex drive. Many users, however, feel adverse effects upon ingesting these chemicals. This is often why we think of the extremities when we see “bath salts” in the media. Even upon first time use, many users experience great paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations. Others will go as far as acting out on their impulses, resulting in violent, psychotic, or suicidal behavior due to bath salt abuse.

The physical effects of bath salts can be equally as damaging. Similarly to stimulants, bath salts can bring about various cardiac symptoms, such as irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and severe chest pains. A bath salts user may also experience dehydration, kidney failure, and muscle tissue breakdown with prolonged use. 

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment

Synthetic cathinone drugs like bath salts carry a high potential for abuse and addiction. Upon regular use, users are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings, leading them to escalate their drug intake or compulsively use the drug again. Because bath salts are highly addictive, it can be difficult for a teen to stop use on his own.

Because of the mental and physical impact bath salts addiction can have on a user, it is vital to seek out professional treatment. Oftentimes, those addicted to bath salts will have another co-occurring mental disorder. This condition not only requires medical condition, but also watchful care to make sure no harm is done to the user at any means. Dual-diagnosis treatment, in many cases, must be initiated as a part of bath salts addiction treatment.

Bath salts produce dangerous side effects, and can pose threat to a user as well as those around him. If you believe your son, or even his friends, are abusing bath salts, do not let your inclination fall to the wayside. Bath salts addiction is severe, and can damage your loved one physically and psychologically for life. Call us today at 1-877-581-1793 for more information on bath salt abuse, and to learn if your teen is at risk.