Bath Salts Addiction and Rehabilitation
Bath salts are dangerous “designer” drugs that cause similar effects to amphetamines. Previously sold “legally” online and on the shelves of drug paraphernalia stores, this easily obtained drug quickly hit the abuse scene. People use it recreationally without realizing how easy it is to become addicted to it — and how it can quickly make life spiral out of control. Unfortunately, poison control centers and emergency rooms across the United States have dealt with numerous overdose cases. And because medical personnel rarely know exactly what chemicals have been ingested, they are sometimes unable to help. If it’s too late and you already have a bath salts addiction, you need to know there is help available to you to kick your bath salts abuse and gain back control of your life.
Because of the serious negative side effects of bath salts, quitting the addiction and getting your body back to a healthy state isn’t going to be easy, but here at 12 Keys Rehab, we have an experienced and dedicated staff that will help make the transition go much more smoothly.
As a matter of fact, you can begin rebuilding your life at our serene Florida waterfront location to make your recovery as peaceful and relaxing as possible. We don’t judge you and have a multidisciplinary treatment team ready to guide you through our 12 step method, which includes safe detox for living life again outside the treatment facility.
But first, you should have an understanding of bath salts and why you became addicted in the first place.
What Are the Signs of a Bath Salts Addiction?
There are a number of signs of bath salt use that could tell you if you or your loved one has an addiction. Some signs include:
- You consume larger amounts for longer periods.
- You are unable to quit or cut down on the drug.
- You are spending a lot of time looking for, using or recovering from bath salts.
- You have an intense craving to use this drug.
- You use the drug regularly, despite its interfering with responsibilities at home, work or school.
- You are experiencing interpersonal and social problems because of bath salt use, yet you continue to use them regardless.
- You neglect recreational or occupational activities to use bath salts.
- You use this drug during physically dangerous situations.
- You have built up a tolerance for this drug and need more of it to achieve the same high.
- You continue to use the drug despite psychological and physical consequences.
There are more signs to look for to spot a bath salt addiction, but these are just the most common.
What Are the Bath Salt Symptoms of Addiction?
Bath salt abuse has led to severe and sometimes fatal outcomes. Some bath salts symptoms to look for include:
- Chest pains
- Increased blood pressure and/or heart rate
- Kidney pain
- Muscle tension
- Chills or increased body temperature
- Decreased appetite or need for sleep
- Suicidal thoughts
You may notice yourself (or your loved one) becoming overheated and trying to cool off by tearing off items of clothing. There might be aggression, violent behavior, self-destruction or uncontrolled attacks on other people. Unresponsiveness to commands to stop the behavior is common, and even stun guns or pepper spray have been known to be ineffective.
Helping Your Loved One Recover From Their Bath Salt Addiction
Getting a loved one to agree to seek help for their bath salts addiction can be very difficult, but there are some ways you can approach them:
- LDon’t blame them for their abuse or threaten them. Usually, this only upsets them and can cause them to continue using.
- Let them know that you’ll continue supporting them and help them research their treatment options. Take a tour with them at 12 Keys Rehab so they don’t feel alone.
- Be prepared to offer help more than once, since they might refuse to admit they have a problem and when you confront them about it, they could become defensive. It could take you several attempts before they admit they are ready for help.
- If needed, you might want to try an intervention if they continue to refuse treatment. It’s best to enlist the help of a professional interventionist, since staging an intervention on your own can be risky and unsuccessful.
Approaching your loved one might not be easy, but it has to be done. Be patient with them, but don’t enable them to continue their drug problem. Keep offering your support and help in getting them into treatment.
Caring for your Loved One
If your loved one is struggling with an addiction to bath salts, it’s important for you to understand they are dealing with a number of emotional, physical and mental challenges. It’s important that you show them your love and support during this trying time.
Remember: it’s not uncommon for your loved one to either deny their drug problem or become defensive about it. All you can do is continue to show your support and love and gently guide them towards treatment at 12 Keys Rehab. Let them know that, regardless of anything else, you’ll always be there for them. Ongoing expressions of concern and continued support are what they need to motivate them to seek help and agree to treatment.
It is also important to mention that you can actually hurt their chances of recovery by enabling them. Enabling them can include things like:
- Making excuses for them
- Paying for their drugs
- Paying their rent/mortgage payment
- Picking up their drugs or giving them rides there
You want to maintain a positive relationship with your loved one, and if you’re engaging in enabling behaviors, it’s time to stop right away.
Can You Become Addicted to Bath Salts?
Scripps Research Institute scientists conducted a study on rats where they were able to self-administer d-methamphetamine (METH) or the MDPV bath salts compound. To get a dose of either, they learned how to press a lever. The number of lever presses was increased by the scientists for the rats to get more doses in an effort to see if and how they would work for another dose.
The study showed the rats pressing the METH lever an average of 60 times to get their dose, but with the MDPV, they pressed it almost 600 times to get their dose. This indicated the rats were working over 10 times harder to get their dose of MDPV than they were their dose of meth, suggesting that the rats’ behavior was changed more effectively and potently with the bath salt compound.
Along with this, the MDPV rats showed repetitive behavior. For instance, they would lick the chamber walls repeatedly. Similar repetitive behaviors are shown in humans, such as compulsive skin-picking or tooth grinding.
Since chemists create new compounds all the time based on bath salts, they are considered “designer drugs” — and this is a big reason why it’s challenging to keep them banned and prevent them from being available for purchase legally. Once one type of synthetic cathinone is banned, another one is invented by the drug chemists that have an entirely different compound to get around the legal restrictions.
Because of this, three popular bath salts ingredients — MDPV, methylone and mephedrone — have been banned, as well as similar chemicals.
There is a lot of addictive potential in bath salts, and the potential for inducing a tolerance to the drug (making it so you have to take more of the drug to achieve the same result) is quite high. Since there is always the chance of other potentially addictive and unknown substances that can be cut with bath salts, it increases its addictive qualities even more.
How Long Is the Withdrawal Process From Bath Salts?
There isn’t any one-size fits all rule for how long it takes to detox from bath salts, since many factors play into the timeline. The withdrawal process is heavily influenced by your level of dependence, other mental or medical health disorders, family history of substance abuse, stress levels and various other factors. Typically, detox is fairly short, lasting anywhere from three to five days, followed by a more complete recovery program.
What Are the Stages of Bath Salt Withdrawal?
As with any substance abuse, withdrawal from bath salts is a process. As you withdraw, your body is gradually returned back to normal after you’ve repeatedly added the toxic substance to it. Withdrawal is very unpleasant and will not be easy. The stages you go through during withdrawal will mirror how long it takes for your body to excrete the toxic substance.
Therefore, your initial detox stage, where you’ll be experiencing the most withdrawal symptoms, will last anywhere from 48 hours to a week. It could take you several weeks to get through the protracted stages. But, your symptoms will begin decreasing in severity as you continue detox and get through the initial crash stage.
Why It’s Dangerous to Quit Bath Salts Without Assistance
Bath salts are not easy to quit on your own, and your chances of relapsing are high. This drug triggers intense cravings and when you combine that with the withdrawal symptoms of paranoia, tremors, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression, it can be very overwhelming and difficult to get through your first stage of recovery.
To ensure a successful outcome and manage the potentially dangerous and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, you need to do your detox through a recovery program where you can be monitored 24/7.
Also, when you try to quit the drug without assistance, you’re not learning why you became addicted, and whether it was because of a trauma, stress or a mental health issue. When you don’t understand your addiction, you’re more likely to start using again in order to deal with your underlying problem.
Since it’s quite possible to experience rapid changes in your symptoms while going through detox, you need to have access to immediate medical attention, which you don’t get at home.
The Process of Safely Detoxing From Bath Salts
When you abuse bath salts, you also develop a psychological and physical dependence on them. When coming off these drugs, you’ll go through the unpleasant symptoms mentioned above.
At 12 Keys Rehab, we offer compassionate care while we help manage your symptoms of detox. We assess your immediate needs when you first walk in the door by giving you a thorough physical examination. Then we provide you with 24/7 supervision as you go through the stages of your detox.
How severe your withdrawal symptoms are will depend on how long you’ve been using, how severe your addiction is and if you’re dependent on other substances, as well.
When coming off bath salts, you’ll likely experience some depression, which can trigger suicidal thoughts and might even lead you to attempt suicide. This is why it’s so important to have trained, professional staff by your side to supervise your withdrawal. You might be feeling bad now, but this feeling will go away. We will help you get through it.
What Is a Bath Salt High Like?
The high that bath salts provide has been noted as mimicking methamphetamine. You can achieve effects with a lower, three-milligram dose, but the standard dose usually ranges between 5 and 20 milligrams.
This drug has been labeled “legal cocaine” due to the euphoric feelings it produces. But it also causes bad feelings as well, (which follow close behind the euphoria) including depression, paranoia, craving more and agitation. Doses are said to last up to eight hours, but if you re-dose, the drug can affect you for several days.
What Is a Bath Salts Addiction Like?
This drug is highly addictive, and even on your first hit, it can be extremely damaging and may produce severe side effects. Your loved one will likely continue to abuse bath salts regardless of negative consequences like failing financial obligations, missing work or school, having recurring legal problems or missing family obligations.
Furthermore, bath salts have addictive properties to them that lead users to lose self-control and even lose touch with reality. They alter how your brain works by altering the neural pathways, which leads to your addiction. Having an addiction to bath salts can be scary and devastating, but the good news is you don’t have to find that path to recover alone. There is help available at 12 Keys Rehab, where you and your entire family can find the support you need.
Importance of Entering a Bath Salts Recovery Treatment Center
Even though bath salts haven’t been around that long, they have already been associated with negative consequences ranging from kidney failure and paranoia to death.
Bath salts are highly addictive and, in order to kick the cycle of abuse, you need a compassionate and dedicated team of professionals that know what you’re dealing with.
12 Keys Rehab will get you through the detox and help you work through not just the physical consequences of your addiction, but also any underlying emotional issues as well. Since the emotional issues that led you to start abusing bath salts are much more powerful than your temporary cravings to do the drug, you need a trained counselor or therapist to work with you in confronting the issues and working through them. Detox alone can get you off the drug, but if you don’t work out the emotional health issues, you’re likely to go back to using.
Why Bath Salts Are So Popular With People
Bath salts abuse is prevalent due to causing alertness, euphoria and other desired effects. People take this drug because of the initial “high” it provides them. However, these desired effects unfortunately don’t last long and are typically followed by psychological effects like agitation, confusion, violent and self-destructive behavior, aggression, acute psychosis and combativeness.
Bath salts are made up of a number of chemicals. The main chemicals include methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), pyrovalerone and mephedrone. Injecting or snorting the drug produces the most serious results. Although these are the three main chemicals found in the drug, there are various others which often make treatment for the adverse effects or an overdose challenging.
It’s the people who typically use methamphetamine or cocaine that seek out bath salts, since they act as strong stimulants as well. They’re highly addictive and bring about strong cravings. If you begin using bath salts, you often can’t stop using them because of these cravings, despite knowing you’re harming yourself.
How People Typically Use Bath Salts
Normally you snort, inject, smoke or take bath salts orally. No matter which way you take the bath salts, most of the dangers are the same. There are some differences, though.
When you snort bath salts, it can cause chest pain and increase your heart rate. It can make you dizzy, paranoid and agitated, as well as cause you to sweat profusely and vomit. Snorting bypasses the slow digestive process and quickly delivers the drug right to your brain. This results in you getting the powerful bath salts effects much quicker.
This, however, can speed up your tolerance to bath salts, which means you have to take more of it to achieve the same results.
When you ingest bath salts orally, your body absorbs it fairly quickly and you obtain your peak “rush” approximately an hour and half after taking the drug. You experience the effects for around four hours, and then experience a hard crash.
Injecting bath salts is a more dangerous practice and can cause the development of mood disorders and psychoses over time. In addition to mood disorders, other effects can include potential suicide attempts, delirium, self-mutilation and profound depression. When using bath salts long-term, it can even lead to death.
Along with all the negative effects the drug brings on in itself, when you inject the drug, you also have the potential of facing toxic and possibly lethal side effects such as:
- Injection site infections
- Skin erosions
- Vein blockage
- Blood clots
- Increased risk of hepatitis, HIV and other illnesses that are blood-borne
Bath salts almost always contain unknown ingredients, so you never know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
Take, for example, a 20-year-old woman whose case was published by the Poison Control Center. After she smoked bath salts, she became restless and agitated and her pupils became large. Then, her blood pressure and heart rate shot up. She was admitted into the ER, where she was sedated. Her blood work was taken and showed she already had liver injury, kidney damage and she experienced a heart attack. Even while sedated, she was still restless and was displaying uncontrolled muscle spasms.
She was kept in the hospital in the intensive care unit for several days while being treated for kidney failure. Luckily, she did recover and was able to go home.
How Do Bath Salts Affect Your Brain?
There are three major neurotransmitters in your brain that the stimulant MDPV in bath salts affects. These are dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline.
This neurotransmitter is vital for memory, movement, sleep, attention, behavior, learning, mood and pleasurable reward.
Serotonin regulates your mood, appetite, social behavior, memory, sleep, digestion, function and sexual desire.
This is your “fight or flight” response system. It increases your skeletal muscle blood flow, blood pressure and heart rate.
Common stimulant effects reported by people who used bath salts include increased physical activity, euphoria, decreased appetite, insomnia and an extreme craving to use more of the drug.
In fact, a study done on the stimulant MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) showed that the brain is affected by this stimulant in a similar way as cocaine, but it’s around 10 times as powerful.
Users have experienced psychotic, violent and life-threatening episodes while on this drug. Other effects bath salts have on your brain and mind include:
- False euphoria leading to quick paranoia
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Thoughts of suicide or successful suicide
There is still a lack of information on bath salts and how your brain is affected by synthetic cathinones.
Liver and Other Organ Damage From Bath Salts
It’s important for you to know that you risk damaging your organs as a result of bath salt abuse.
Acute Kidney Failure
The American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD) reported a case where a patient’s repeated bath salts use led to recurring acute kidney injury. The patient presented cardiovascular and neurologic symptoms at first and then developed hyperuricemia, rhabdomyolysis and metabolic acidosis. Therefore, the AJKD recommends that bath salt abuse be added to the list of drugs that may lead to metabolic abnormalities and acute kidney injury.
In fact, another case involved a 29-year-old male who showed symptoms of sepsis, including lactic acidosis, shock, liver failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and non-ST elevation myocardial infarction, after he snorted bath salts. All of his urine and peripheral blood cultures were negative, but wide complex tachycardia was shown on his electrocardiography.
He did recover, but he needed dialysis. When he was discharged, on his 22nd day after being hospitalized, to an extended care facility, he underwent regular hemodialysis treatments for approximately three months.
Damage to the Brain
When it comes to bath salts, there is no safe or recommended dosage. As a user of bath salts, you typically buy a pouch of crystallized powder and take some. You start off experiencing a little boost and take some more of the powder to keep that boost going again and again, until, before you know it, you’ve emptied the pouch. When you empty the pouch, either in a short period of time or all at once, you can experience horrific effects.
For example, when a large amount of this psychoactive stimulant hits your brain, it overloads your nervous system and causes things like reckless behavior, mood swings, paranoia and panic attacks. Not to mention hyperthermia sets in, which is when your body begins to overheat, since it can’t expend the heat fast enough to cool you down.
MDPV in the bath salts speeds your central nervous system up and produces powerful, amphetamine-like effects. As mentioned earlier, some of these effects, such as kidney or liver failure, heart attack, skeletal muscle tissue breakdown and suicide, are extremely serious. You might also experience a distinct increased tolerance to pain or display violent behavior.
It’s after all of these horrible effects add up together that you begin experiencing what many people describe as the “dark hell” experience.
Bath Salts and Dual Diagnosis
There are several common co-occurring disorders that go along with bath salt abuse.
Psychosis that is induced by bath salts is fairly clear-cut, and you often experience:
- Auditory and Visual Hallucinations
With bath salts-induced psychosis, the paranoid delusional state you’re in tends to go away with treatment, and after up to a week, your symptoms begin resolving themselves. If they don’t resolve themselves after a couple weeks, you might need additional psychiatric care.
Since bath salts can’t be detected in your urine, it can be challenging for medical personnel to determine if you’re indeed experiencing bath salt-induced psychosis or a different mental health disorder unless you’re up-front about using the drug.
This presents a bunch of symptoms that are the result of an increase in the biological activity of serotonin. Your brain naturally has a release and reuptake of serotonin, like it does dopamine. When you increase the release of serotonin artificially with substances, it leads to exaggerated nerve cell activity and results in serotonin syndrome.
Bath salts symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
- Increased heart rate
- Blood pressure changes
Stopping the use of bath salts and seeking supportive care can help resolve the short-term serotonin effects. But, if you continue using the drug, it can lead to repeated serotonin toxicity and lead to your developing even more severe symptoms that even antipsychotic drugs can’t treat.
If you do suffer with serotonin syndrome, you’ll usually be observed in a hospital and be given medications like benzodiazepines to prevent seizures and treat agitation. You’ll be kept hydrated with IV fluids.
This condition by itself is a severe psychological condition. When you have both a co-occurring antisocial disorder and bath salts addiction, it means you have a dual diagnosis. Some symptoms of antisocial disorder include lying to your family, finding pleasure in manipulating people, controlling others with intimidation, exhibiting violence or hostility and engaging in high-risk behaviors. Many of these symptoms, along with a lack of regard for others’ safety, are also symptoms of abusing bath salts.
Does Abuse of Bath Salts Cause Any Permanent Damage?
What do bath salts do to you? Bath salts can cause both long-term and permanent damage, including:
- Liver damage
- Kidney failure
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Skeletal muscle tissue breakdown
- Swelling of the brain or even brain death
Bath salts abuse can be serious, particularly since it can bring on a lot of dangerous health effects. As you continue to use this drug, and your body begins adapting to it, you develop a tolerance that makes it so you have to begin taking progressively larger doses to get the same effects. By doing this, you increase your risk (and likelihood) of either taking a fatal overdose or of having more dangerous, more permanent side effects.
Who Typically Engages in Bath Salts Abuse?
Synthetic cathinones are abused across a broad range of age groups, which includes children and teenagers. Since they are easy to access in shops and online, it’s too easy for minors to get a hold of them and abuse them. And since teens and kids are known for their impulsive and immature behavior and judgment, they are particularly vulnerable.
Not only this, but individuals who are between 20 and 29 years of age are the people who most commonly use bath salts. Nevertheless, it’s the poly-drug users (people who combine drugs) that carry the highest overdose risk.
Overdose, however, is a huge risk for anyone, since there really is no “set” dose and no two batches are the same. One batch may be very different from another — therefore, opinions of users are extremely unreliable.
What Are Bath Salts?
First sold in 2010, bath salts are synthetic cathinones made chemically by human beings. They are related to the stimulant cathinone, which is found in the khat plant. This plant grows in southern Arabia and East Africa and is often brewed in a tea, or its leaves are chewed by people to experience their mild stimulant effects. The cathinone synthetic variants found in bath salts are much stronger than those in the khat plant, and are much more dangerous.
Synthetic cathinones stimulate your central nervous system and are meant to provide you with effects similar to those which you get from methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy (MDMA). Bath salt formulations containing MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone) appear alongside cocaine and heroin as Schedule I substances.
Bath salts are usually bought in a brown or white crystal-like powder in foil or small plastic packages with a label on them that says “not for human consumption.” You can also find them with labels that say “jewelry cleaner,” “plant food” or sometimes “phone screen cleaner” on them.
Moreover, until recently, you could easily get them at drug paraphernalia stores or online, and they were sold under a number of different names including:
- Blue Silk
- Pure Ivory
- White Dove
- White Lightning
- White Knight
- Cloud Nine
- Vanilla Sky
- Meow Meow
- Purple Wave
The name “bath salts” might be deceiving, but they are not the same ‘Epsom Salts’ you buy to put in your bath. These are chemically made, illegal drugs that are very powerful and haven’t been tested for human consumption. In fact, you never know exactly what you’re putting into your body when you take this drug, and they can cause permanent side effects.
Distributors of bath salts sometimes hide the drug in fertilizer or bug spray containers.
Key Statistics About Abuse and Addiction to Bath Salts
The abuse of bath salts has rapidly increased in the United States over the last several years. Because they contain ingredients that are both dangerous and addictive, they have been banned by federal law and in most of the states.
Some not so surprising statistics on bath salts include:
- In 2011, almost 23,000 ER bath salt-related visits occurred in the US and over 16 percent of emergency room patients who ended up there because of bath salts were either in critical condition or died.
- In 2012, there were over 2,600 phone calls to poison centers that were bath salts-related. There were almost 1,000 in 2013 and a little over 500 in 2015.
- Bath salts were among the most commonly used substances in 2011, making it to the sixth leading drug abused. The first was tobacco and the fifth was ecstasy.
Your 12 Keys Rehab Bath Salts Addiction Treatment Plan
Here at 12 Keys Rehab, we understand the full spectrum of issues that comes with abusing bath salts. We are qualified, trained and experienced to handle these issues and get you through them comfortably.
When you first come in, you’ll go through your initial detox. We help reduce your cravings, depression, sleep issues and other common symptoms of withdrawal. We will look at other potential problems that are associated with your substance addiction, such as physical ailments caused by poor nutrition, mental health problems and other common issues.
Following your detox stage, we begin a multidisciplinary, holistic treatment plan tailored to your personalized needs. We provide cognitive behavioral therapy, neurofeedback and other types of therapeutic treatment. You’ll also participate in our 12 Keys Model, which is our successful long-term rehabilitation program.
We realize that picking up that phone and calling 12 Keys Rehab can be overwhelming and a hard decision. It might be hard for you to admit you have a problem. We don’t judge here — we help. Our staff members are empathic and caring and many have claimed victory over their own addiction battles at one time. They know exactly what you’re going through, first-hand.
Your victory is up to you. You can finally free yourself of your bath salts addiction and begin living a fully recovered life by contacting 12 Keys Rehab.