Bath salts typically come in a brownish or white crystal or powder form and are packaged to seem like they are a legal substance like “jewelry cleaner” to avoid regulation by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA). The drug is either snorted, injected, swallowed or smoked, with injection and inhalation presenting the most danger for overdose or death.While its use has subsided from the “craze” of past years, similar formulas appear on the market as “Molly” or “Flakka.”
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the standard tool for clinical professionals and researchers for the classification of mental health and substance use disorders. The DSM-5 criteria for Stimulant Use Disorder outline the dangers of use, abuse, and dependence upon these and other substances in the same class.
Unfortunately, the numbers illustrate how few people actually get the help they need. In general, around less than 10% of the people needing substance use treatment are able to benefit from quality detox followed by a long-term treatment program to address their substance use, as well as the underlying factors.
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Bath salts refer to a type of synthetic cathinones or man-made stimulants. Cathinones occur naturally in a certain plant named khat, grown in parts of southern Arabia and East Africa. Cathinones are considered mild stimulants; however, the synthetic versions of cathinones can be extremely dangerous. Two of the most common synthetic cathinones are Mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), coined bath salts.
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and the spinal cord. It is constantly communicating with cells and organs to ensure the body is functioning properly.
The brain and the body are constantly seeking harmony in order to function well. The medical term is homeostasis, and it means that when anything disrupts the CNS, efforts must be made to return to a certain level of stability. For example, when the body becomes hot from exercise or being outside in the sun, we sweat in an effort to cool off or reach the previous level of homeostasis.
Using bath salts will interfere with the CNS’ ability to return to a balanced state.
Everything we do affects our central nervous system. The foods we eat, how much sleep we get, the quality of the air and water we ingest, even things like stress and unseen toxins in cleaning products will have some kind of an effect.
Bath salts act as a central nervous system stimulant, similar to cocaine or methamphetamines. While the effects of cocaine and other amphetamines are relatively well understood, the research on bath salts has been difficult to track. They are responsible for preventing the reuptake of neurotransmitters dopamine (associated with feelings of euphoria) and norepinephrine (involved in the stress response).
Variations in the duration of effects and length of time to recover from withdrawal symptoms are common; however, there is relatively little official data on bath salts use, dependence and addiction. Most of the data available are dependent upon user reports or clinical reports.
Bath salts withdrawal is dangerous and should not be taken on alone, particularly when other substances are involved like benzodiazepines or alcohol.
The extent and severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type, frequency and amount of bath salts used by the individual. Typically the experience of withdrawal involves the opposite of the effect the drug produced. For example, because we know bath salts act to increase heart rate and other autonomic nervous system functions, during withdrawal those activities would be reversed, resulting in tachycardia or lethargy.
Given the fast-acting properties, symptoms for bath salts are typically acute.
Because of the potential for misdiagnosis, it is critical that medical or addiction professionals rule out prior psychotic behaviors.
When medically managed, most withdrawal symptoms are alleviated within five to seven days.
However, it is important to note that treatment following a medically managed detox will result in a better success rate. Safely removing the bath salts from the brain and body is only the first step.
There are other psychological, emotional and behavioral issues to address that will set you up for continued sobriety.
It is critical to get the help you need to successfully manage withdrawal symptoms and begin a life without the use of bath salts. Long-term use can negatively affect many aspects of daily living such as memory, mood, and concentration.
The withdrawal from bath salts can be dangerous. Individuals suffer symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and may even be potentially fatal, so it is critical to seek appropriate treatment.
When seeking treatment, it’s important to understand the difference between the various levels of care so you can get the most out of your treatment experience.
Medical detoxification, or simply detox, is a medically managed detoxification from bath salts. Following a thorough history and physical examination, the medical staff will determine the best medication protocol to manage your withdrawal symptoms safely. Depending on the severity and extent of drug use, a detox from bath salts may take up to seven days and is up to the discretion of the medical providers. Medical complications, using more than one substance, or a history of mental health diagnoses are all examples of when a detox may take longer than usual. Treatment centers will require you to successfully complete detox in order to safely and fully participate in their ongoing programs.
Detox can take place in a hospital setting if you have severe or unmanageable medical complications, or it can take place in a standalone detox facility. These standalone, privately run facilities must be staffed 24 hours a day with medical personnel, as well as support staff, to monitor your symptoms and ensure the safest, most comfortable experience possible. Specially trained staff will know how to observe your progress throughout the detox process and will be able to respond to any potentially life-threatening situations.
Residential treatment typically follows a successful detox and involves living on site and participating in a variety of therapy. Individual sessions with a trained therapist, as well as group and family therapy sessions, are some of what is required at each residential facility. It’s during this time you will be examining patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that may have contributed to your substance use. Residential treatment length of stay will vary depending on your needs, but can typically last from 30 – 90 days following the detox.
Outpatient treatment is intended for those individuals who are in a more stable position medically, physically, and emotionally. After the support from detox and residential care, the activities of daily living on your own are more manageable and you will remain involved with outpatient treatment to continue your journey of recovery. You will continue to participate in therapy on a less frequent basis, and maintain connections with your support system and therapist. This is an important part of your recovery, as it will allow you to transition to the next phase of your life with the support that played such a beneficial role.
In a recovery treatment program, you will be able to address the physical, psychological, medical, and social aspects of bath salts use or addiction, learning through various therapeutic tools how to manage your addictive behaviors effectively and maintain long-term sobriety. This is done through a customized treatment plan, which you will customize with your therapist, and may include some of the following common treatment modalities:
If you or a loved one is struggling with bath salts abuse or addiction, it is important that you treat it with the seriousness it requires and get help before it is too late.
At California Highlands Addiction Treatment, we offer quality detox as well as residential treatment and can provide the resources, support, and specialized treatment needed to get you or your loved one back on your feet and on the path to lasting sobriety.
Call 855-808-5454 now for a free and confidential consultation with one of our specialists, who are available around the clock to help you navigate your treatment options, verify insurance, and answer any questions you might have. Call now or contact us online for more information.
Synthetic Legal Intoxicating Drugs: The Emerging Incense and Bath Salt Phenomenon. from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/223986197_Synthetic_Legal_Intoxicating_Drugs_The_Emerging_Incense_and_Bath_Salt_Phenomenon
Stimulants. (2018, August 01) from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/289007-overview#a3
What is Homeostasis? (n.d.) from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-homeostasis/