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Bath Salts Withdrawal

Bath salts are synthetic cathinones that have received some media attention in the last decade with the allegation that those who use them end up doing reckless things. However, not all bath salt users engage in reckless activities. Nonetheless, bath salts are detrimental to your health and mind. 

Bath salts are very dangerous when ingested in any way.  They’re related to a substance known as a cathinone, which comes from an African khat plant. This substance acts much like amphetamine, such as MDMA or cocaine, stimulating the central nervous system. Others report feeling euphoric or experiencing hallucinations when taking bath salts.

There are plenty of synthetic bath salts that are sold on the streets, usually in small plastic bags or foil. They may be labeled “Not for human consumption.” However, this does not deter some people from trying them out. These new psychoactive mind-altering drugs pose a significant danger to those who use them.  Side effects reported are paranoia, seizures, bizarre or reckless behavior, psychosis, violent behavior, or death.

What Are Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms?

Bath salts are addictive, causing users to continually crave more of the drug. If they cannot continue using the drug, strong and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may arise, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Cramps
  • Cravings
  • Erratic behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble focusing
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation

What Are the Stages in Bath Salts Withdrawal Timeline?

Not everyone will get through bath salt withdrawal at the same pace or experience the same intensity of symptoms. The time frame and intensity can vary due to:

  • Level of addiction
  • The dose of bath salts taken
  • The frequency taken
  • Overall health condition
  • How supportive the environment is
  • Dietary habits
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Polydrug use
  • Mental health

Because bath salts are similar to stimulants, the general withdrawal timeline will be similar to other stimulants.

General Bath Salt Withdrawal Timeframe

Usually within the first 12 to 24 hours, you may start experiencing some early withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, restlessness, cravings, and fatigue.

Bath salts give the brain a good boost of dopamine, so when someone stops taking them, the brain’s lack of dopamine can cause a person to experience what is called a crash. It’s likely that between days two and four, the withdrawal symptoms will peak, which can feel quite uncomfortable. Common symptoms reported during this timeframe include insomnia, cramping, paranoia, trouble focusing, agitation, and perhaps some of the more severe symptoms like tremors, hallucinations, and psychosis.

Usually by the end of the first week of withdrawal, many or most of the physical withdrawal symptoms will have subsided. This will vary depending on the factors mentioned above, as heavy users tend to go through a longer withdrawal period. Psychological symptoms may linger on, such as anxiety, depression, and cravings.

Regardless of whether you were a mild or heavy user of bath salts, seeking the help of substance abuse professionals to undergo detox is recommended.

How Dangerous are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are unpredictable illicit stimulants that can widely vary in potency. Cathinones can be extremely powerful, causing some severe adverse effects including paranoia, aggression, heart palpitations, arrhythmias, and potentially deadly overdose. 

Since bath salts are designer drugs, they are designed to circumvent known substances. That means you might not know exactly what you’re taking. Instead, you may be encountering any number of designer stimulants. There are dozens of cocaine and MDMA analogs being sold on the street, and they’re often sold as popular substances. It can be difficult to determine the appropriate dose of a drug you buy. In some cases, you may buy a weak chemical compound that requires a heavy dose, while others are more potent.

Plus, powerful opioids like fentanyl have been making their way into illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. Buying powders and pressed pills from illicit sources could risk taking a high dose of a powerful opioid, which can be fatal.

However, cathinones are dangerous enough on their own. Aside from the previously mentioned side effects, they can also cause behavioral symptoms that put you in harm’s way. Bath salts can cause paranoia, delusions, and frightening hallucinations. Since they are also stimulants, the drug can cause you to panic and move around or even run away, sometimes into danger. The drug can cause you to feel irritable, panicked, and even aggressive, causing accidents or violence.

During withdrawal, powerful stimulants like bath salts may not cause fatal withdrawal symptoms like central nervous system depressants.  But they can cause severe psychological symptoms. Aside from some general physical discomfort and extreme fatigue, bath salts withdrawal can cause depression and suicidal thoughts or actions. 

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Why Should I Detox?

Medical detox is the highest level of care in addiction treatment, and it involves 24-hour, medically managed care. Detox is reserved for people with high-level medical needs, especially needs related to acute withdrawal. Bath salts can cause fatigue, nausea, insomnia, irritability, depression, paranoia, anhedonia, and thoughts of suicide. In most cases, bath salts withdrawal isn’t life-threatening, but it can be extremely unpleasant. Along with powerful drug cravings, unpleasant symptoms can make relapse extremely compelling, and it may be tough to get through withdrawal on your own.

Medical detox can also treat other medical conditions or complications that are related to drug use directly or indirectly. Diseases, injuries, and other medical concerns that need 24-hour monitoring and care can be addressed in detox.

What is the Next Treatment Step?

The next treatment step after detox is to commit to a long-term recovery program at a residential or outpatient treatment center. It might not be enough to stop using bath salts, as there are usually other factors involved with addiction. If you don’t get to the root of the addiction, you are likely to relapse down the road. This is why continued treatment is vital to a full recovery.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is an essential recovery step. Leaving home to receive the treatment you need to get free from addiction is a great way to regain control of your life. Sometimes it’s challenging to get free from addiction while living at home, especially when your home life might not be very supportive. Taking the time to commit to residential rehab can make a world of difference and impact the rest of your life.

In residential treatment, you will be surrounded by substance abuse professionals ready and willing to assist you in getting free and learning how to live life without using drugs. You learn a lot about addiction and recovery, including helpful tools and techniques to help prevent relapse. You’ll also get to meet with a therapist to contend with any emotional or mental health issues that may be going on. You may also be introduced to a 12-step recovery group that you have the option to continue attending once you are discharged.

The length of time that you stay in treatment will depend on your wants and needs.

frustrated young adult covering his face

Many opt to stay 30, 60, or 90 days for treatment, and then some go on to enroll in an outpatient program or intensive outpatient program (IOP).

Outpatient Treatment

An outpatient program works well for those who are not able to live at the treatment center due to family or work responsibilities. You’ll usually attend between three and five sessions per week and receive much of the same care as you would in a residential treatment program. An intensive outpatient program (IOP) requires more time per week than outpatient treatment, usually more than 12 hours. Some people complete residential rehab and then enroll in IOP if they still don’t feel very strong in their recovery.

Your level of care will depend on things like your level of bath salt addiction, funds, and time.

Sources

from

Gholipour, Bahar. Live Science. Bath Salt Drugs May Be More Addictive Than Meth. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/38157-bath-salts-addictive.html

Medicine Net. Bath Salt Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/bath_salts_abuse_and_addiction/article.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Nolan, M. L., Shamasunder, S., Colon-Berezin, C., Kunins, H. V., & Paone, D. (2019, February). Increased Presence of Fentanyl in Cocaine-Involved Fatal Overdoses: Implications for Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30635841

The Fix. Bath Salts Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Withdrawal, and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/content/bath-salts-addiction

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