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.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

What is the treatment for bath salts use disorder?

The treatment of bath salts intoxication involves providing intensive medical monitoring and attention to address the specific symptoms of the individual. It also often involves using medications to alleviate medical symptoms of intoxication like nausea, insomnia and lack of appetite, as well as emotional symptoms like agitation.

The primary goals for the treatment of addiction symptoms (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. When the addicted person first abstains from using drugs, he or she may need help avoiding or lessening the effects of withdrawal. That process is called detoxification or detox. That part of treatment is usually conducted in a hospital or other inpatient setting (often called detox centers), where medications used to decrease withdrawal symptoms and frequent medical assessments and care can be provided. As with many other drugs of abuse, the detox process from bath salts is likely the most difficult aspect of coping with the physical symptoms of addiction and tends to last for days.

People who may have less severe psychological symptoms of bath salts dependency may be able to be maintained in an outpatient treatment program. Those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after engaging in outpatient programs, or who also suffer from a severe mental illness might need the higher level of structure, guidance, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug-treatment center, often referred to as "rehab." After inpatient treatment, many bath salts addicts may need to live in a sober-living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support and daily structure.

Another important aspect of treating bath salts addiction is helping family members and friends of the addicted person refrain from encouraging addictive behaviors (codependency). Whether codependent loved ones provide financial support, excuses, or refrain from acknowledging the addictive behaviors of the addict, discouraging such codependency of friends and family is a key part of the recovery of the affected individual. Focusing on the bath salts-addicted person's role in the family likely becomes even more urgent when that person is a child or teenager. Bath salts-dependency treatment for children and adolescents differs further from that in adults by the younger addict's tendency to need help finishing their education and achieving higher education or job training compared to addicts who may have completed those parts of their lives before acquiring the addiction.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/16/2016

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