Bath Salts Abuse and Addiction
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Bath salts facts
- What are bath salts, and how do people abuse bath salts?
- What is the history of bath salts?
- Are bath salts addictive?
- Are bath salts legal?
- What are risk and protective (prevention) factors for bath salts use disorder?
- What are the symptoms and signs of bath salts intoxication?
- What are the side effects, complications, and prognosis of abusing bath salts?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose bath salts use disorder?
- What is the treatment for bath salts use disorder?
- Where can people find more information about bath salts abuse and addiction?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Bath salts facts
- Bath salts as drugs of abuse refer to a white powder or crystalline substance that has no bathing or other cosmetic use.
- The active ingredients in bath salts tend to be similar chemically and in their effects to stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines. Some have hallucinogenic effects.
- The occurrence of bath salts abuse in the United States has rapidly increased over the last few years, and the substance is sold in many small stores as well as on the street.
- A number of the active ingredients in bath salts are considered to be quite addictive and dangerous. They have therefore been banned by laws in the majority of states as well as by federal law.
- There are a number of biological, psychological, and social factors (called risk factors) that can increase a person's vulnerability to developing a bath salts use disorder.
- The signs and symptoms of bath salts intoxication tend to include feeling euphoric ("high"), sexually stimulated, thinking one is more focused, and having a high energy level for two to four hours after taking the drug.
- Several severe medical and emotional complications can result from bath salts abuse, including death.
- Health-care professionals diagnose bath salts abuse and addiction by thoroughly gathering medical, family, and mental-health information.
- The treatment of bath salts intoxication involves providing intensive medical monitoring and attention to address the specific symptoms the individual has.
- Treatment for the psychological symptoms of addiction likely takes a great deal longer than managing the medical problems involved.
What are bath salts, and how do people abuse bath salts?
Bath salts are a type of "designer" drug of abuse. The reason these drugs are commonly called bath salts is because they tend to be in the form of white powder or crystals. However, these substances are not at all the same as the bath salts in which people bathe. Many of the bath salt drugs include mephedrone, methylone, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV or MDPK) and are synthetic cathinones, which are found in plants commonly called khat. These drugs and are chemically similar to stimulant chemicals like cocaine or amphetamines. MDPV or MDPK also have chemical similarities to hallucinogens like Ecstasy.
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Some of the other many street or slang names for bath salts include plant food, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Vanilla Sky, Purple Wave, Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning, White Dove, Super Coke, Tranquility, Zoom, and Magic. Mephedrone also has street names like meow, drone, and meph. These so-called designer drugs are usually taken by ingesting, smoking, sniffing, or injecting.
The rate of bath salts abuse has rapidly increased. For example, poison-control centers in the United States reportedly received 304 calls for the abuse of this drug in 2010. That number increased to 1,782 calls in just the first four months of 2011 and to more than 6,000 calls by the end of that year. Interestingly, there were fewer calls to poison-control centers in 2012 and 2013 (2,691 and 996, respectively). The areas where these drugs are used have also seemed to expand; originally, most of the calls to poison-control centers came from Louisiana, Florida, and Kentucky but later came from 33 states.
As of 2011, bath salts were the sixth most commonly used drugs, after tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and Ecstasy. Bath salts users tend to be male slightly more often than female and younger than the users of other drugs, and most use it at least weekly. Most bath salts users snort or otherwise inhale the drug, causing a more intense high and higher risk of addiction and complications.
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