What are Bath Salts?


Synthetic cathinones, commonly known as bath salts or “designer drugs,” are addictive, synthetic stimulants. Cathinone occurs naturally in the khat plant, which grows in East Africa and southern Arabia. Both natural and synthetic cathinones are similar in structure to amphetamines and produce a stimulant effect in the brain and body. Bath salts are a Schedule I controlled substance with no proven therapeutic value.

Synthetic cathinones like bath salts typically are a white or brown crystalline powder that can be taken orally, inhaled, snorted or injected. It is sold in small foil or plastic packets labeled “not for human consumption.” This is how they came to be called bath salts: marketing them as household items has hidden the fact that it is an illicit distribution of stimulants. These are also sometimes called “plant food,” “jewelry cleaner” or even “phone cleaner.” The sale of some of these has since been made illegal, but new chemical versions may appear. While cathinones alone are a dangerous substance, there is no way to control the quality of any illicit substance, meaning the drug could be cut with fillers and other substances. Not knowing exactly what you are consuming can easily result in overdose or death. Additionally, repeated use of stimulants may significantly alter the balance of chemicals in your brain, affecting your mood, sleep, energy level, and your thinking ability.

Bath Salts addiction dangers and effects

When snorting, inhaling or injecting bath salts, the following effects are common:

  • Energy
  • Agitation
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Excited delirium—extreme agitation and violent behavior
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Nosebleeds
  • Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue
  • Kidney failure

Bath salts overdose symptoms include:

  • Faintness
  • Panic attacks
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

These symptoms can be deadly if not treated immediately.

Habitual bath salts use changes the physiology of the brain. Dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter release is profoundly changed, altering the brain’s pleasure centers for the worse. Additionally, research suggests that the cathinones in bath salts elevate stress hormones. This could create a vicious cycle in which repeated bath salts use creates stress, and the user copes with stress by taking more bath salts. With these neuronal and hormonal imbalances, bath salts addiction is truly a chronic brain disease, and at Enterhealth we treat it as such.

Bath salts withdrawal symptoms

Most stimulant withdrawal signs and symptoms usually begin to occur within twenty-four hours of the last dose of stimulation.
Bath salts withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sleep
  • Residual paranoia

These problems vary in severity and duration depending on the amount of bath salts taken and duration of use. Some people use stimulants to counteract the drowsiness or “down” caused by sleeping pills or alcohol. The “up/down” cycle is extremely dangerous and hard on the body. Stimulant withdrawal can produce profound loss of energy and very intense cravings, which frequently result in relapse back to using and even death. The type of stimulant used affects how long it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to subside.

Bath Salts withdrawal stabilization

Brain chemical imbalances caused by stimulant addiction can cause severe cravings during the early sobriety period (up to twelve to eighteen months after stopping the stimulant) and both these severe cravings for the stimulant, as well as trouble thinking clearly, can cause an elevated risk of relapse to stimulant or other drug use.

Unfortunately, no medications have been specifically approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence by the FDA at this time. However, a variety of medications for stimulant addiction have been tested in numerous research trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. A group of potential “anti-stimulant” medications have been found to help to prevent relapse to stimulant use (especially cocaine) during the later phases of treatment. Some of the more promising medications used for this goal include topiramate (trade name Topamax) disulfiram (trade name Antabuse), gabapentin (trade name Neurontin) and naltrexone (trade name Vivitrol).

Bath Salts addiction treatment options

An evidence-based combination of therapeutic and pharmacological addiction treatment can help those with bath salts addiction regain a stable and productive life. Research shows that integrating both types of treatment is the most effective approach to restoring a degree of normal function to the brain and addressing underlying issues.

Enterhealth Ranch provides effective residential treatment services for bath salts addiction, which includes science-based medication therapy and medical staff onsite daily.

Because of the severe brain injury caused by bath salts addiction, effective behavioral treatments for bath salts addiction should be administered in a residential setting, then followed by long-term treatment in an outpatient setting. A treatment plan may include:

  • Psychological evaluation and treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Wellness, nutritional and stress management treatment services
  • Medication management

Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence offer the full continuum of care including residential and outpatient treatment options, both integrated together for the patient’s individual situation. During the residential phase of treatment, patients live at our 43-acre ranch facility while undergoing treatment. Among many other treatments, patients attend addiction recovery therapy sessions that are specialized to each individual’s addiction challenges.

Upon completion of the residential rehabilitation phase, the patient can transition to our outpatient facility, where patients receive continued, medically supervised treatment while living at their own residence.

Bath salts addiction treatment, however, goes beyond medication and treatment. Through therapy and counseling, the psychological aspects of dependency can be better understood by the patient and addiction can be completely overcome. Counseling may be individual or group-oriented, and may also include the family. Continuing care programs are also available, as they are essential to provide counseling and continued support over a number of years.

Bath Salts addiction recovery with Enterhealth

People suffering from bath salts addiction may feel hopeless, but they are not alone. Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence can help you or a loved one begin recovery at our 43-acre residential bath salts addiction treatment program just north of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, and our outpatient bath salts addiction treatment program located in the Preston Center area of Dallas.

At Enterhealth, our goal is to treat the whole person for a lifetime. We offer a better chance to recover through our advanced, evidence-based treatment approach, designed and administered by board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians and other experts, that is proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step approaches.