Bath Salts Abuse and Addiction

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What are risk and protective (prevention) factors for bath salts use disorder?

As opposed to any specific direct causes, there are a number of biological, psychological, and social factors, called risk factors, that can increase a person's likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. The frequency that addictions to any drug, including bath salts, occur within some families seems to be higher than can be explained by the addictive environment of the family. Therefore, most substance-abuse professionals recognize a genetic aspect to the risk of this and other drug addictions. Mental-health symptoms that are caused by bath salt use disorder include mood disorders like depression or anxiety. Social risk factors for bath salt use, as for any type of drug use disorder, include male gender, age 18 to 44 years old, unmarried marital status, and lower socioeconomic status. According to statistics by state, people residing in the West tend to be at higher risk for chemical dependency. As with substance use disorder in general, prevention of bath salt abuse and addiction is increased by circumstances like receiving appropriate supervision, as well as clear messages from family members that drug use is unacceptable.

What are the symptoms and signs of bath salts intoxication?

The signs and symptoms of bath salts intoxication include feeling euphoric ("high"), sexually stimulated, thinking one is more focused, and having high energy levels for two to four hours after taking the drug. Those symptoms tend to be followed by feeling very let down for several hours to days thereafter.

What are the side effects, complications, and prognosis of abusing bath salts?

Possible side effects and complications of even low doses of bath salts abuse include rapid heart rate, chest pain, high blood pressure, feeling jittery or agitated, and having hallucinations, paranoia, or delirium. The agitation and delirium can last for days. Other possible effects on the body from using these drugs, particularly with overdose, include liver failure, seizures, heart attack, brain swelling, and severe fever (hyperthermia). Emotional complications of bath salts abuse can include panic attacks and violence against oneself (suicidal thoughts or actions, or self-mutilation, as in cutting or burning oneself). The bath salts abuser may develop thoughts, attempts, or acts of homicide or violence against others. Deaths from the medical problems associated with bath salts have been known to occur, as well.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/16/2016

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