When you think of the name bath salts, it’s easy to assume you’re purchasing an enhancer for bubble baths. But since the early 2000s, a new group of synthetic drugs has emerged, which has caused significant problems throughout the country.

If you’ve heard of bath salts, you probably known they’ve been nicknamed the “zombie drug.” While movies and television shows have done their best to depict zombie apocalypses, they could just watch videos of the real-life impact of abusing bath salts.

Bath salts are possibly the deadliest drugs currently circulating the streets, and their accessibility makes them even more dangerous. The chemical structures of bath salts are meant to mimic street drugs such as amphetamines. Bath salts are often marketed as plant food and bathing products, so they can be legally purchased from gas stations and tobacco stores.

The most famous story that motivated the “zombie drug” nickname was the “face eater” in Miami. One dramatic news article described this user as “a monster, a zombie, a cannibal!” The article covers the story of a man in Miami who ingested bath salts, went on a rampage, and ended up eating a homeless man’s face. A police officer stated he fired his weapon four times to subdue the user, but the strength of the drug overpowered the impact of the bullets.

While you can predict the outcome of most drugs, bath salts are particularly dangerous because they’re so unpredictable. If you suspect that a loved one has been experimenting with bath salts, you need to be aware of the symptoms to prevent them from ending up like the “face eater.”

What Are Bath Salts?

Synthetic cathinones are man-made stimulants that share similarities with cocaine and amphetamines. The ingredients are found in the khat plant, which is grown in East Africa and southern Arabia.

The cathinones most commonly found in bath salts are made up of 3,4,-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone.

Each time a batch of bath salts is seized and tested by officials, the chemical makeup has been slightly altered to make it technically legal. The drugs are also packaged in an inconspicuous fashion that doesn’t require FDA approval. To get around the law, the label must contain the words “not for human consumption.”

MDPV affects the brain in a way that’s similar to cocaine, except it’s much stronger and lasts longer. This drug activates feelings of motivation, arousal, energy, and excitement in users, which leaves them wanting more.

What Are The Signs Of Addiction To Bath Salts?

An addiction to bath salts isn’t as prevalent as cocaine or meth abuse. Since the chemical structure rapidly changes, it’s common to have adverse effects that can scare users off. While some users report euphoria, the majority describe paranoia, extreme panic, and horrifying hallucinations.

Addiction is the result of excessive and repeated use, so it’s unusual for someone to become  addicted to bath salts. However, it does occur.

The first sign of addiction is a growing tolerance to the substance consumed. A tolerance is an indicator that the effects of dosage you first took are getting weaker.

The next sign is dependence, which indicates a growing need for the drug. If you cut back or quit using it at this point, you could experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. After the compulsions to use the drug are greater than the ability to resist them, addiction has started setting in.

What’s Involved In Addiction Treatment For Bath Salts?

Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that affects each person differently. Fortunately, addiction treatment has become much more advanced over the past several years. Today,   addiction is a very treatable disease. However, addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so a professionally trained team needs determine your exact treatment.

The first stop on your journey to sobriety is a medical detoxification center. This round-the-clock treatment will last up to a week. Bath salts are unpredictable, so having a team of professionals during this period is vital to your safety. They could also provide medication to alleviate any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which could range from anxiety to tremors.

After you complete detox, clinicians could determine that you’ll enter a residential treatment facility or outpatient care. The levels of intensity will vary, and your placement will depend on the severity of your addiction and present medical issues. If you’re high-risk, you’ll be placed in a facility for up to 90 days, where you’ll go through therapy geared toward finding the root of your addiction.

If you’re considered lower-risk, you’ll be placed in an outpatient treatment program that will allow you to go home after therapies conclude. In residential, the same therapies will take place, which include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. The only difference is that you can commute to therapy sessions.

Bath Salt Abuse Statistics

  •     In the first two months of 2011, 251 poison control center calls were made about bath salts.
  •     In 2011, 0.5 percent of 8th graders, 0.4 percent of 10th graders, and 0.6 percent of 12th graders had used bath salts.
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