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Bath Salts Abuse and Private Treatment Options

bath salts

The term “bath salts” used to refer to fragrant crystals tired bathers could sprinkle in the tub to make the water soft, fragrant and relaxing.

Now, the term has taken on a whole new meaning, due to bath salts abuse. Dealers now sell a variety of dangerous drugs under the innocent-sounding name, and people all across the world are trying the drugs and facing dire consequences as a result.

If you’ve never tried bath salts, this article may well convince you that experimentation is not a great idea. But if you already use bath salts, you may know how dangerous the drugs are, yet you still have difficulty cutting back or eliminating your usage. If this describes your situation, there is reason to be hopeful. In a formal addiction program, you can learn more about why the addiction developed and how it can be managed. You can learn how to put your life back together. Read on to find out more.

Alternate Names for Bath Salts

Bath salts can be sold under cute names such as:

  • Vanilla Sky
  • Zoom
  • Pixie Dust
  • Ivory Wave
  • Purple Rain
  • Hurricane Charlie
  • Sextacy

Source: The Florida Poison Information Center, Tampa

Purchase and Methods of Use

In states in which bath salts are legal, the drug can be sold in gas stations and so-called head shops that also sell herbal drugs like spice. Many retailers offer bath salts online, offering consumers covert packaging that can hide the contents of the shipment from the prying eyes of the authorities. The drug is often quite inexpensive, with some providers selling a packet of the drugs for much less than $20. At this price point, the drug is affordable for almost anyone, and even adolescents can buy the drug in states where it is legal. No proof of age is necessary.

Bath salts packages are colorful, and some even show photographs of people bathing or bubbles floating up into the air.

The packages may also be prominently labeled with the phrase, “Not for human consumption.” This doesn’t seem to fool anyone, and in fact, it might be the one tipoff that these packets contain actual drugs instead of true bath salts. Where soaps, perfumes and such might contain tiny warnings in the fine print of packages, bath salt drugs are in packages with the phrase prominently displayed. It’s more of a suggestion of use, or a tipoff to the knowing, rather than a statement of harm.

Unlike traditional bath salts, these drugs have no scent and they don’t have the same sort of granular texture found in bath salts made for the bathtub. Instead, these bath salts resemble a fine, white powder. Users can snort the drug, just as they would cocaine, or they can smoke the drug instead. Smoking the drug seems to cause the most negative side effects, as it allows the greatest amount of the drug’s active ingredients to enter the bloodstream in the shortest period of time.

Case Study: Bath Salts and Violence

The case of a man in Fulton, Mississippi can help to describe just why these drugs are so very dangerous. Under the influence of the drugs, this man used his own knife to slash the skin on his face and stomach. He survived the attack, but he has scars from the event that are likely to stay with him for life. Even now, he’s unable to articulate why he was compelled to cut himself while under the influence.

Thankfully, however, he did get help for his drug abuse, and he now donates his time to writing letters about his experience, urging others to stay away from the drugs.

Source: The Huffington Post

Active Ingredients and Serious Side Effects

There is no industry consensus on what belongs in a packet of bath salts. And, since there is no governmental agency that regulates the industry, manufacturers can put almost anything in those packets and sell them. Some manufacturers may even vary what goes into their products on a day-to-day basis, depending on what they have on hand at the time.

According to the company MEDTOX, which operates a drug testing laboratory that has been certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, bath salts typically contain methylmethcathinone and/or methylenedioxypyrovalerone. Put together, these drugs deliver a powerful one-two punch to the system, providing the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine all in one.

People who use bath salts with these ingredients may feel:
  • Powerful and invincible
  • Aggressive
  • Paranoid
  • Sped up, with a fast heart rate and rapid breathing
  • Warm and sweaty

Some people who take bath salts feel an extreme sense of paranoia, and they may also experience hallucinations that are both terrifying and ongoing. People who abuse bath salts may believe that zombies are chasing them or that aliens are coming to invade the earth. The strange and erratic behavior of people on bath salts sometimes causes random spectators to contact the police or mental health professionals, but the person on bath salts may be so keyed up and so upset that these professionals risk attack, injury or death by trying to provide care.

How Long Does it Last?

People who use bath salts may feel the effect of the drug set in within minutes, and they may feel a peak of symptoms about one to two hours after they’ve taken the drug. These symptoms may last for another three to four hours, and then the noticeable effects may wear off. At the end of this cycle, it’s not uncommon for people to feel low, depressed or exhausted. It would be an ideal time to get help for an addiction, before you go back to using to make those low feelings go away.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

Addictive Potential

Given all of these terrible risks, it’s a wonder that anyone uses bath salts at all, but the fact remains that use is high and still growing higher.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, during the first two months of 2011, there were 251 calls to poison control centers related to bath salts. In 2010, there were 236 calls within the entire year.

Part of this increased use might be due to the fact that the active ingredients in bath salts have been found to be addictive. For example, according to a study published in the journal Addiction Biology, methylmethcathinone caused changes in the rat brain that were similar to changes caused by the addictive drug MDMA. The researchers suggest that these changes could be linked to compulsive use, even at relatively low doses. This is a study result that’s been borne out by anecdotal evidence of user behavior. For example, according to an article published in Bloomberg Businessweek, people who abuse bath salts sometimes return to drug use almost as soon as they are released from a hospitalization due to their drug use. The users report that the craving to use the drug is simply too strong to ignore, and they feel compelled to go back to use as a result.

Medical Help

People who are using bath salts often end up in the emergency room, as mentioned, because their behavior is erratic and they cannot be reasoned with. Once they arrive in the emergency room, treatments are designed to keep both the person on drugs, and the people providing care, safe from physical harm. If the person is violent and threatening, he or she might be restrained with straps, drugs or both. When the person is then calm, doctors work to provide fluids to correct imbalances and try to keep the person sedated until the bath salts wear off.

It might be frightening to wake up tied to a table, feeling groggy from drugs and realizing those people caring for you are also a little afraid of what you might do. It’s important to remember that people provide this care to help you stay alive. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, people who abuse bath salts can sometimes have heart attacks or seizures as their body temperature rises and they lose fluid. People who abuse bath salts may also kill other people while they’re hallucinating. Sedation is just a vital part of treatment.

Why Is It Legal?

If the drug is so very dangerous, you might be wondering why in the world it’s considered legal in some states. The answer is a bit complicated. Manufacturers who use the term “Not for human consumption” on the packaging claim that this protects them from law enforcement action, as they’re not making a food or drug. This is an argument that holds up in some states. In addition, most laws surrounding drug abuse name the chemicals used. Since the ingredient list of bath salts can vary so widely, this sort of naming is difficult or impossible to do properly. Some states are taking action, however, and they are banning the manufacture and sale of these substances within their borders.

Moving Past a Crisis

When you wake up in the emergency room after treatment for bath salts, your treatment for addiction has only really begun.

While therapies in the emergency room can help you move past a crisis, they do not help you adjust to living with a bath salts addiction, and they don’t help you learn to cope with cravings. Only an addiction recovery program can do that. By working closely with a counselor, you can pick up the toolkit of skills you’ll need to stop using bath salts. Programs like this are available almost everywhere, and some programs might even provide assistance if you’re worried about the cost of care. Recovery is possible.

If you’re abusing bath salts, it’s time to get help. Call us today for more information on treatment options.