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Bath Salts Effects: What Do Bath Salts Do To The User?

Man experiencing Bath Salts Side-Effects

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In less than a decade, bath salts effects have become very popular among drug abusers. Bath salt drugs are made with synthetic chemicals that cause it to be one of the most addictive substances out there. Short and long-term effects of bath salts can affect the body in various ways. This review seeks to take a look at the side effects of using bath salts and ways to manage them.

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Table of Contents

Bath Salt Effects: Short-Term Reactions

There are chemical similarities between bath salts and cocaine or meth, so some of the side effects that are associated with those substances are mirrored in bath salt usage too. The short term effects of bath salts vary from mild to severe, with the mild reactions being the less dangerous reactions caused by using the substance. Additionally, the side effects can vary per individual.

This is down to three major reasons:

  • There is a wide variety of substances labeled as bath salts, lunar wave, or cloud nine drug. While they will share the same or similar base chemical composition, minor differences may cause different reactions in different individuals.
  • The amount of the substance used by the individual will affect the severity of the side effects experienced.
  • The method of ingestion will also affect the type and severity of the side effects experienced by the user. For instance, a person that snorts the substance may experience the adverse reactions quicker and more severely than a person that swallowed it.

male hand making lines of bath salts or flakka

They are up to ten times more powerful than cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and this means they can cause extremely distressing reactions in the body and mind. Short term side effects of bath salts may not damage a person’s health permanently if medical attention is sought immediately, alongside a suitable rehabilitation program. However, they can lead to life-threatening health problems if that is not done.

Physical Bath Salts Effects

Physical short-term side effects of using bath salts include:

  • Chest pains
  • Appetite loss
  • Nosebleeds
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Brainstem herniation
  • Seizures
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Involuntary, rapid movement of the eyes
  • Numbness
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High fever
  • Skin rash
  • Excessive sweating

Mental Bath Salts Effects

Mental short-term side effects of the substance include:

  • Dependency and addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Delirium (evolving from the initial false euphoria)
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Self-harm
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety

As suggested earlier, the method of ingestion of the substance may cause a variation in the exhibition of side effects from the user. When a person snorts salts, the most commonly seen adverse reactions (including some of the effects mentioned above) are:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Cramps and muscular tension
  • Bath salt overdose and death.

How long do bath salts stay in the system? According to a study published in the Pharmacy and Therapeutics journal in 2012, the stimulant effects of the substance last within an average of three to four hours. However, some users had shown symptoms for two to three days before the effects finally wore off.

Bath Salt Effects: Long-Term Adverse Reactions

Regular intake of cloud nine drug over a long period will lead to a certain substance abuse disorder. This will be exhibited in the form of serious physical and mental side effects that have the potential to be fatal. The only way to deal with long term effects of bath salt use is to seek professional medical treatment as soon as possible.

Addict man with a syringe sitting in the corner.
Long-term effects of bath salts have also been known to include severe behavioral disorders. It becomes tough to break free from usage because the substance is extremely addictive, so the abusers constantly have to increase dosages to keep achieving the desired level of a high. At this stage, finding a program to help detox bath salts from the system can be a tough task. Common long-term side effects include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Mental illness
  • Narrowed blood vessels (vasoconstriction)
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Cerebral edema
  • Coma
  • Memory loss
  • Psychosis
  • Addiction
  • Liver failure
  • Ulcer
  • Bone damage
  • Mood disorders
  • Anorexia
  • Erratic behavior
  • Brain death
  • Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue
  • Death

Additionally, users that ingest the substance by injection are faced with the likelihood of exhibiting these adverse reactions:

  • Increased risk of blood-related illnesses such as hepatitis and HIV
  • Vein blockage
  • Gangrene
  • Skin erosion
  • Infection at the points of injection
  • Abscesses
  • Blood clots

The effects of bath salts on the brain are the most commonly reported cases associated with long-term abuse.

The substance is so potent that a user with no prior history of any mental illness can easily get one by using bath salts. People with a recessive genetic vulnerability to psychological illnesses will also see these vulnerabilities become dominant if cloud nine drug is ingested.

Bath Salt Abuse And Dependency Risks

Going by the report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that was mentioned earlier, cloud nine drug is more potent and likely to lead to addiction than meth and cocaine – two of the most addictive substances around.
Concerning the demographics of the people that are most likely to get hooked on the substance, more research from the NIDA showed that the drug is most prevalent among users aged between 18 to 24 years. This statistic suggests that the younger generation are more involved with bath salt abuse than anybody else, so they are the section faced with the highest dependency risk.

 woman holding her head sitting in the sofa in a party
The age demographic is further backed up by the prevalence of the drug in the “party drug” scene. Young adults that are already involved with party drugs (ecstasy, for instance) are likely to experiment with a lunar wave too. The same applies to individuals that turn to cocaine or meth for stimulant reactions, as they are likely to turn to trying bath salt high for stronger effects.
On a side note, cloud nine drug is still not the most potent of stimulants – flakka drugs are a more potent version of bath salts. The side effects of flakka drugs are similar to lunar wave, but a stronger potency means that chances and severity of occurrence are significantly increased.
The moment a symptom of bath salt use or abuse is noticed in an individual, it is crucial that appropriate medical attention is sought immediately. In fact, if there is evidence of first use, there must be an intervention and detoxification even before any symptoms start to show.

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Sources
  1. Jennifer A. Gershman and Andrea D. Fass, Synthetic Cathinones (‘Bath Salts’) – Legal and Health Care Challenges, 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474442/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, Bath Salts, Revised February 2019, https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts
  3. Patrick S. Johnson and Matthew W. Johnson, Investigation of “Bath Salts” Use Patterns Within an Online Sample of Users in the United States, November-December, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266324/
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

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