Bath salts are the name under which a stimulant drug has been marketed in recent years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse first posted an alert regarding bath salts as recently as February 2011. This relatively new drug has been widely available in gas stations, smoke shops, and other retail outlets as a substitute for cocaine. The stimulant agent in bath salts is a synthesized chemical derived from cathinone. Cathinone is a naturally occurring substance found in the khat plant that is indigenous to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Khat, while legal in these other countries, is illegal in United States.
The synthesized version of the drug however, has been used legally in bath salts products in recent years. While all of the packages in which bath salts are sold state plainly that they are not for human consumption, they are often ingested by inhaling the powder through the nose, mixing it with liquid and injecting it intravenously, or by simply taking it orally. According to the director of the NIDA, there is very little information about the short- and long-term effects of these drugs. What the experts have discovered is that there are an alarming number of individuals seeking emergency medical attention after ingesting bath salts.
What are the Symptoms Associated with Bath Salts Abuse?
- Chest pains
- High blood pressure
What Are the Short- and Long-Term Effects of Bath Salts Abuse?
According to some individuals who abuse bath salts, the effects are very similar to those of cocaine, khat, LSD and Ecstasy. This would indicate that the euphoric effects might include a decrease in inhibitions, an increase in energy, and a feeling of excitement.
Information published by the Canadian government, however, includes information on the projected long-term effects of bath salts abuse. Some of the effects they have encountered include depression, insomnia, suicidal tendencies, bizarre or violent behaviors, as well as damage to the kidneys and muscle tissue.
With many types of drugs, one of the most obvious long-term effects includes addiction. Bath salts, on the other hand, are so new that it is not known for certain whether they are truly addictive. However, it is important to note that individuals who have experienced the effects of the drugs report many of the same symptoms found with other powerfully addictive stimulants, including:
- Binging (consuming the drugs continuously for a period of hours or days in order to maintain the euphoric effects)
- Crashing (feeling an intense exhaustion as a result of the long period of intoxication and little sleep)
- Tolerance (the need to consume more of the drug in order to achieve the same results that smaller doses used to provide)
Delusional and Violent Behavior Associated With Bath Salts Abuse
According to ABC News, the abuse of bath salts can lead to extremely violent and brutal attacks on oneself and others. In a report published in June 2012, the respected news agency highlighted several incidents of this type of delusional behavior. There have been instances where individuals under the influence of this powerful stimulant attacked and killed close friends or killed themselves.
If someone you love appears to be under the influence of this drug, do not hesitate to contact the authorities. The drug encourages “superhuman” strength and can make the person who is under the influence extremely dangerous.
Can Bath Salt Abuse Be Treated With Drug Addiction Therapies?
Whenever a new drug hits the streets, medical providers and treatment specialists are left to determine the most effective ways to treat people who are affected by the drug. The Observer Dispatch, a newspaper published in the Mohawk Valley of New England, reported in July of last year that some doctors are using 50 times the normal dose of sedative to control unruly evolution of patients affected by bath salts. Medical staff members were simply overwhelmed and caught at a loss as to how to deal with the medical issues surrounding this drug.
Likewise, because no studies existed to determine the most effective treatments, rehab centers in treatment facilities were scrambling to learn all they could about how to treat this disease. Because of the similarities between bath salts and other intense stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, similar treatments may be the best course of action, although new research has suggested that bath salts are more dangerous than cocaine.
One of the most effective treatments for cocaine and stimulant addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a process through which an individual learns better ways to think of themselves, their environment, and the situations they face in their life while simultaneously learning the skills needed to confront these issues and make better decisions related to behavior. For instance, an individual may learn through cognitive behavioral therapy a better way to address stressful situations. Rather than turning to the alcohol or drugs, or in this case to stimulants because of their ability to increase energy, they might learn to prioritize the tasks they need to complete and take their lives one step at a time.
Another method of treatment for stimulant abuse is one that concentrates on motivational incentives. Motivational incentives are rewards for good behavior choices. They might take the form of vouchers that are awarded or successful drug screens to indicate the individual has not abused cocaine or other stimulants. While in an inpatient facility, the voucher might be used for extra items for personal use. In an outpatient setting, these vouchers are often redeemed for sober living activities, such as a movie or a dinner out on the town.
Another form of treatment that has been proven effective for the treatment of drug addiction is the use of 12-step support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous. According to the authors of the study, individuals who participate in 12-step programs have several advantages over those who do not. One advantage that they will encounter is the likelihood that they will remain in treatment for a longer period of time. Once treatment has been completed, these individuals have a higher success rate when it concerns relapse prevention.
Finding the Right Treatment Program for Someone Suffering From Bath Salts Abuse
When faced with a loved one who is abusing a drug as dangerous as bath salts, there may be a sense of urgency to find a facility in which to place your loved one. The entire situation may seem so overwhelming that the stress can be mitigated if you know what you’re looking for. An effective treatment program will offer certain aspects in accordance with the Principles of Effective Treatment published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
One such principle of effective treatment is the use of evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Particularly important with a drug as dangerous as bath salts is the availability of the treatment program. If an individual is ready to seek treatment for their drug abuse issues, and then forced to wait before they can enter an effective treatment program, there is more time for them to worsen their addiction, harm themselves or harm others. In addition to these important aspects, the treatment program you choose should provide a thorough assessment to determine whether any co-occurring mental health issues exist and have the ability to develop a plan that will address all of your loved one’s needs.
If you or someone you love has experienced bath salts abuse, please do not hesitate to call our professional staff for dedicated help getting you through this difficult time.