Drug and Alcohol

Bath Salts: Get the Facts About New Psychoactive Substances

What are Bath Salts? Dangers & Addiction

What are bath salts? One of the most infamous synthetic drugs, bath salts are also readily available for purchase. Learn more about these drugs here.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

March 29, 2023

Synthetic stimulant substances known as "bath salts" have grown in popularity recently, especially among young individuals. These drugs can severely harm the body and brain and cause social and personal issues. Like other synthetic drugs, they are also highly addictive and potent. Public health experts and specialists in addiction therapy are becoming increasingly concerned about the developing addiction to bath salts substances.

Addiction to bath salts can have severe adverse effects on one's health, finances, relationships, and legal situation. Bath salts addiction can only be treated professionally, such as through a specialist addiction treatment program that provides all the services and support needed to recover from bath salt addiction. Thus, the rising addiction to bath salts drugs is a growing public health concern that requires immediate attention and action

By the Numbers:

According to data from The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bath salts appear to be one of the more prevalent new classes of drugs in the US, and at least 77 different "bath salt" drugs are used. An estimated 3.5% of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) attendees have knowingly used “bath salts.”

What Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are a class of synthetic designer pharmaceuticals made with synthetic cathinones in them. Chemical substances known as synthetic cathinones are structurally comparable to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant. Bath salts are often consumed by snorting, injecting, smoking, or swallowing and are typically offered as a white or off-white crystalline powder.

Bath salts are marketed under a variety of street names, such as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Vanilla Sky," and "Bliss." They are often sold in small foil packets or plastic bags and can be purchased online or in retail stores. These drugs are known as "new psychoactive substances" among researchers.

Bath salts are known for their stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. The effects of bath salts can last up to several hours and may include euphoria, increased alertness, agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, and even violent behavior.

The use of bath salts has been associated with several serious health problems, including heart palpitations, seizures, kidney failure, and even death. In addition, bath salts can cause intense cravings, leading to addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Due to the risks associated with bath salts, they are illegal in many countries, including the United States. However, new variations of synthetic cathinones are constantly being developed, making it difficult for authorities to keep up with their regulation.

It is crucial to remember that bath salts should not be confused with actual bath salts, a type of Epsom salt used to enhance the bathing experience. Actual bath salts are safe and do not contain synthetic cathinone.

What Are Designer Drugs?

Designer drugs are synthetic substances designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs while evading drug laws and detection. Chemists and underground laboratories often create these drugs, and they are frequently marketed as legal alternatives to illegal drugs.

Various names, including bath salts, spice, K2, and synthetic marijuana, often refer to designer drugs. These drugs are typically sold in head shops, gas stations, and online, and they are often labeled as "herbal incense" or "bath salts" to evade legal scrutiny.

Designer drugs are hazardous and unpredictable, as they are often created using a variety of unknown chemicals and substances. The effects of these drugs can vary widely depending on the type and amount of chemicals used, and they can cause serious harm to the brain and body.

Some common effects of designer drugs include hallucinations, paranoia, agitation, seizures, heart palpitations, and even death. These drugs can also cause long-term damage to the brain and body, including memory loss, impaired judgment, and chronic health conditions.

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How Do Bath Salts Work?

Bath salts act on the central nervous system to produce stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Synthetic cathinones are chemically similar to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant.

When bath salts are ingested, they quickly enter the bloodstream and are transported to the brain. Once in the brain, they bind to and activate various receptors, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine receptors. These receptors regulate mood, motivation, reward, and other essential functions.

By activating these receptors, bath salts cause an increase in the release and reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine. This results in a surge of dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for euphoria and increased energy associated with bath salts.

In addition to their effects on dopamine, bath salts also affect the serotonin and norepinephrine systems, which can lead to hallucinations, paranoia, and other psychological effects.

Bath salts also have several physical effects, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. These effects can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks, seizures, and kidney failure.

The exact mechanism of action of bath salts has yet to be fully understood, as there are many different types of synthetic cathinones with varying chemical structures. However, it is clear that bath salts significantly impact the brain and body and can be extremely dangerous when used recreationally.

How Do People Consume Bath Salts?

Bath salts drugs are consumed in a variety of ways, including:


Bath salts can be snorted through the nose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. This method of consumption produces a rapid onset of effects, but the effects only last for a short time as other methods.


Bath salts can be smoked using a pipe or other smoking device. This method of consumption produces an intense high and can cause lung damage.


Bath salts can be dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream with a needle. This method of consumption produces an intense high and poses an increased risk of infection and other health complications.


Bath salts can be swallowed in pill or capsule form. This method of consumption produces a slower onset of effects, but the effects can last longer than other methods.

It is important to note that consuming bath salts in any form is highly dangerous and can cause serious harm to the brain and body. Bath salts are a highly addictive and potent drug, and even small amounts can cause significant damage.

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What Are the Effects of Bath Salts?

"Bath salts" is an umbrella term, so the effects these drugs have can differ widely. These effects come on quickly, too: most people the effects of bath salts around 15 minutes after they take them.

These feelings can include:

  • Agitation and anger

  • Paranoia

  • Panic

  • High heart rate and blood pressure

  • Chills

  • Aggression

  • Chest pain

  • Hallucinations and delusions

  • Increased sex drive

What Are the Symptoms of Addiction to Bath Salts?

Addiction to bath salts can have a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Some common signs of addiction to bath salts include:

Intense Cravings

People addicted to bath salts may experience intense drug cravings and struggle to control their use.


Over time, the body can become tolerant to the effects of bath salts, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effect.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone stops using bath salts after regular use, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and cravings.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

Despite experiencing negative effects as a result of using bath salts, such as financial problems, relationship problems, or legal issues, an addicted person may continue to use the drug.

Loss of Interest in Other Activities

As addiction takes hold, a person may lose interest in hobbies, work, or other activities they previously enjoyed.

Changes in Behavior

Addiction to bath salts can lead to changes in behavior, such as mood swings, irritability, agitation, or violent outbursts.

Physical Symptoms

Chronic use of bath salts can lead to a range of physical symptoms, such as weight loss, dental problems, skin lesions, and muscle breakdown.

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What Are the Side Effects of Addiction to Bath Salts?

Bath salts can have a range of short-term and long-term side effects. Some common side effects of addiction to bath salts include:

Cardiovascular Problems

Bath salts can cause increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and chest pain, leading to heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular problems.

Kidney Damage

Bath salts can cause dehydration and kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure.

Neurological Problems

Chronic use of bath salts can cause seizures, psychosis, and other neurological problems.

Dental Problems

Bath salts can cause bruxism (teeth grinding), leading to tooth decay, jaw pain, and other dental problems.

Skin Lesions

Bath salts can cause skin lesions, ulcers, and abscesses, which can become infected and lead to serious health problems.


Chronic use of bath salts can cause loss of appetite, weight loss, and malnutrition, which can lead to a range of health problems.

Psychiatric Problems

Bath salts can cause or exacerbate psychiatric issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, which can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.


Bath salts can cause agitation, paranoia, and violent behavior, which can lead to injury or death of the user or others.

What Do Bath Salts Do to the Brain?

Bath salts affect the brain in several ways, including increased alertness and euphoria, decreased anxiety, and enhanced sensory perception. The primary psychoactive component of bath salts is a synthetic stimulant called mephedrone or MDPV. This chemical produces effects similar to those of amphetamines and cocaine but with slightly different pharmacological mechanisms.

Bath salts work by releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and reward. Mephedrone also inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, two other major neurotransmitters in the brain.

At higher doses, MDPV can cause hallucinations and paranoia. Long-term use of bath salts may lead to addiction as the brain becomes dependent on the drugs to create feelings of pleasure. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can occur when use is stopped suddenly. Symptoms may include depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Bath salts also have been linked to increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as increased risk of stroke and cardiac arrest due to their stimulant properties.

It's important to note that the effects of bath salts can vary significantly from person to person. As such, it's important to be aware of potential risks and make sure to use them responsibly.

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Are Bath Salts the Same Drug as Molly?

No. Bath salts are typically synthetic stimulants that produce effects similar to those of amphetamines and cocaine, while Molly is the street name for MDMA (ecstasy or molly). While both drugs can be abused, they are not the same chemical substance.

The dangers associated with using bath salts and MDMA vary depending on the particular drug used and the method of ingestion.

What Are the Reasons for Addiction to Bath Salts?

There is no single cause of addiction to bath salts, as addiction is a complex disease that a range of factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors can influence. Some common reasons for addiction to bath salts include:

  • Peer pressure People may try bath salts due to social pressure from friends or peers who are also using the drug.

  • Curiosity Some people may try bath salts out of curiosity without fully understanding the risks or potential for addiction.

  • Stress or trauma People who have experienced stress, trauma, or other emotional difficulties may turn to bath salts to cope with their feelings.

  • Mental health conditions People who have mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, may be more susceptible to addiction to bath salts.

  • Genetics There is evidence that genetics can play a role in substance addiction, including bath salts.

  • Availability The availability of bath salts, particularly online, can make it easier for people to access and use the drug.

  • Sensation seeking Some people may be more prone to addiction due to a tendency to seek out intense sensations or experiences.

How Long Do Bath Salts Stay in the System?

The length of time that bath salts stay in the system can vary depending on a range of factors, including the dose and frequency of use, the person's metabolism, and the type of test used to detect the drug.

Bath salts are typically detectable in the blood for 1-2 days after use, in urine for 2-4 days, and in hair follicles for up to 90 days. However, these timeframes can vary depending on individual factors such as age, weight, liver and kidney function, and overall health.

It is crucial to remember that bath salts are a highly addictive and dangerous drug, and the effects of long-term use can be serious and potentially life-threatening. Even if the drug is no longer detectable in the body, the effects of bath salts on the brain and body can persist for months or even years after use has ceased.

Recovery From Addiction to Bath Salts

Recovery from addiction to bath salts can be challenging, but with the right treatment and support, it is possible to achieve long-term recovery and improved health and well-being.

Here are some steps that can be taken toward recovery from addiction to bath salts:


The first step in recovering from addiction to bath salts is to undergo detoxification. This involves the process of removing the drug from the body under medical supervision. Detoxification may include medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure the safety of the individual.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is essential to addiction treatment for bath salts. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to addiction.

Support Groups

Support groups can provide individuals with the emotional support and encouragement they need to maintain recovery and prevent relapse.

Medication Management

Medications may be used to manage co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, that can contribute to addiction.

Lifestyle Changes

Positive lifestyle changes, such as improving diet, exercise, and sleep habits, can support recovery and improve overall health and well-being.


Aftercare is essential to long-term recovery from addiction to bath salts. This may include continued therapy, support groups, and regular check-ins with a healthcare professional to monitor progress and prevent relapse.

Bath Salts Are Incredibly Dangerous. Get Treated for Synthetic Drug Addiction at The Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center provides recovery from bath salts addiction and offers a comprehensive treatment program aimed at helping people live lives free from synthetic drug abuse.

We offer a safe and supportive environment for individuals to achieve lasting recovery. With the right treatment and support, individuals will overcome addiction and improve their health and well-being for years. Want to learn more about The Edge Treatment Center and our treatment program for synthetic drug abuse? Reach out to us today.

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