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What are the Psychological Effects of Bath Salts?

Bath salts, also known as synthetic cathinones, are synthetic drugs similar to a naturally occurring substance called cathinone, which is native to parts of eastern Africa. Studies show that bath salts have similar effects on the brain as cocaine, but are at least 10 times stronger.

The psychological effects of bath salts can be severe, painful, and dangerous, and can often threaten personal and public safety.

If you or someone you care about is addicted to bath salts, methamphetamine, or another substance, get help right away before it’s too late. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-721-8114 to consult with an addiction specialist about your options for treatment and rehab centers.

What Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are often white or brown in color, closely resemble Epsom salts, and are sold in small foil or plastic packets. Packets are often labeled “not for human consumption,” and sold as phone screen cleaner, plant food, or jewelry cleaner.

Bath salts can usually be purchased on the Internet or in stores that sell drug paraphernalia under common brand names including Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, and Vanilla Sky.

Manufacturers of bath salts frequently change the ingredients and formulas of each batch to avoid using illegal substances as enforced by the DEA. As a result, scientists and healthcare professionals experience ongoing difficulty with predicting and identifying the long-term effects of bath salts on the human body.

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How Bath Salts Alter Brain Chemistry

Bath salts affect brain chemistry in a manner similar to drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. The drug increases dopamine and serotonin levels, and causes surges in norepinephrine — which partly controls adrenaline and stress. The rapid, intense surges in these brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, can cause users to develop high levels of physical strength and enter a state of psychosis.

Due to these effects, those who use bath salts often act extremely violent, aggressive, and brutal toward others. In 2012, there were two U.S. incidents involving bath salts in which users exhibited zombie-like behavior and attacked victims in a cannibalistic manner. People who use bath salts are also reported to experience lowered inhibition, along with worsened depression and anxiety.

The Mental Effects of Bath Salts

In addition to causing depression and violent, aggressive behavior, bath salts can cause a number of other mental and behavioral health issues.

Bath salt users are at risk for experiencing the following mental health issues:

Effects of Bath Salts

Bath salts users may experience panic attacks and agitation.

  • Psychosis
  • Excited delirium
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Agitation
  • Physical dependency and addiction
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased sociability
  • Hallucinations

Due to the way bath salts interfere with the brain and cause stress, the drug can increase the risk for physical health problems such as liver damage, kidney failure, and heart attack.

Addiction Treatments for Bath Salts Use

At this time, there are no FDA-approved medications available to treat addiction to bath salts. However, those who struggle with bath salt dependency and/or addiction can undergo therapies at rehab centers that address underlying causes of addiction. Common treatments for bath salts addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy.

If you or someone you love is addicted to bath salts, get help right away to prevent you, your loved one, and others from getting hurt. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-721-8114 to learn more about addiction treatments that can help reverse the psychological effects of bath salts and guide you or your loved one along the path to sobriety.

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