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What Are Bath Salts?: What to Know About Usage and Treatment

What are bath salts? As drugs, they can have a potentially negative effect on the mind and body. Read on to learn more about this substance.

What are Bath Salts?: Introduction

What are bath salts? Synthetic bath salts are a type of man-made stimulant that mimics the effects of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Unlike traditional bath salts that are used for relaxation and skincare purposes, synthetic bath salts can alter a person’s mood and behavior.

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Chemical Composition and Ingredients

Synthetic bath salts are chemically engineered substances. The exact composition of synthetic bath salts can vary, making it difficult for individuals to know what they are consuming. They are typically made up of a combination of synthetic cathinones, which are central nervous system stimulants.1
Cathinone is a natural stimulant found in the leaves of the khat plant, which is native to East Africa and Southern Arabia. Synthetic bath salts are often created by altering the chemical structure of this substance to produce a more potent effect.
Other common ingredients found in synthetic bath salts include mephedrone, methylone, and MDPV. These chemicals can have unpredictable effects on the body and mind, making synthetic bath salts a dangerous and potentially addictive drug.

What Are Bath Salts?: Methods of Consumption

Synthetic bath salts can be consumed in various ways. These drugs can be ingested orally, inhaled through the nose, injected intravenously, or even smoked.2
Oral consumption is one of the most common methods of using synthetic bath salts. This involves swallowing the drug in powder or pill form. Nasal consumption, on the other hand, involves inhaling the powdered substance through the nose.
Intravenous injection involves directly injecting the drug into a vein, which can result in a more intense and immediate high. Smoking synthetic bath salts is also possible, either by heating the drug on foil or mixing it with tobacco or marijuana.

Note About Consumption

It is important to note that there is no safe way to consume synthetic bath salts. The various methods of consumption all pose serious health risks and can lead to addiction and harmful side effects for individuals.

The Rise of Synthetic Bath Salts

What are bath salts and their history? The use of synthetic bath salts as recreational drugs first emerged in the early 2000s. They were initially sold legally as “research chemicals” or “plant food” to circumvent drug laws.
However, the dangerous and addictive nature of these substances soon became apparent.
Synthetic bath salts gained particular popularity in the United States in 2011, when they were widely available for purchase online and in stores. This led to a surge in emergency room visits and overdoses. SAMHSA reported over 20,000 emergency department visits in 2011 involve bath salts.3

Are They Illegal?

In 2012, the DEA issued an emergency ban on three common ingredients in synthetic bath salts, making them illegal to possess or sell. However, manufacturers have been able to skirt the law by altering the chemical composition of their products.

What are Bath Salts Known As?

Synthetic bath salts have a variety of street names that are used in the drug culture. Some common names include “Flakka,” “Cloud Nine,” and “Bloom.” These names often refer to the drug’s effect of inducing a high or euphoria, similar to more traditional drugs like cocaine.
Other names, such as “Ivory Wave” and “Purple Wave” are a nod to the powdered form of the drug that resembles traditional bath salts.

What Are Bath Salts and Their Effects?

Synthetic bath salts are classified as a stimulant drug, meaning they increase the activity of certain brain chemicals. They have multiple side effects that can be harmful to the body and mind.

The Immediate Physical Experience

What are bath salts doing to your body when you take them? The physical effects of synthetic bath salts can include:
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
One of the most dangerous physical effects of bath salts is hyperthermia, which is a condition characterized by a dangerously high body temperature. This can lead to dehydration, organ damage, and even death.4

Altered Mindscapes: Psychological Shifts

On the psychological side, bath salts can bring about feelings of recklessness and dangerous behavior. Other effects may include paranoia, a profound sense of fear and mistrust towards others. This can manifest as extreme agitation or aggressive behavior.
Moreover, users might also experience hallucinations, which is a state of seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not really there. In some cases, these hallucinations can be violent and dangerous.

The Long-Term Consequences of Bath Salts

Regular use of synthetic bath salts can lead to an individual developing a tolerance, meaning they need more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. This can increase the risk of overdose and quickly escalate to addiction or stimulant use disorder.
Withdrawal symptoms may occur when an individual stops using synthetic bath salts. These can include depression, anxiety, cravings for the drug, and difficulty sleeping. In severe cases, users may experience psychosis or other serious mental health issues.
Physically, prolonged use of synthetic bath salts has been linked to cardiovascular problems, liver and kidney damage, and even brain damage. In addition, the drug may cause permanent changes in brain structure and function.

What Are Bath Salts Like Compared to Other Stimulant Drugs?

There are several similarities and differences between synthetic bath salts and other stimulants. What are bath salts like compared to other stimulants? Let’s take a look:


Synthetic bath salts, cocaine, and methamphetamine all act as stimulants by increasing the activity of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. Norepinephrine is involved in the body’s “fight or flight” response. Serotonin affects mood, sleep, and appetite.
Many stimulants share similar risk factors such as addiction, overdose, and potential for long-term health consequences.


One key difference between synthetic bath salts and other stimulant drugs is their legal status. In terms of legality, cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II drugs, meaning they have accepted medical uses but also have a high potential for abuse.
Synthetic bath salts, on the other hand, are classified as Schedule I drugs, which means that they have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse. This means that possession and distribution of synthetic bath salts is strictly illegal.
In terms of effects, cocaine tends to have a shorter duration of action compared to methamphetamine and synthetic bath salts. Additionally, the chemical makeup of synthetic bath salts can vary widely, making it difficult to determine the exact risks and effects associated with use.

Challenges for Healthcare Professionals When Treating Bath Salts Addiction

Synthetic bath salts pose a unique set of challenges for healthcare professionals. What are the challenges that healthcare professionals may run into when treating addiction?
Some potential difficulties include:

Identification and Management

One of the main challenges for healthcare professionals is identifying when individuals are under the influence of synthetic bath salts. The symptoms and behaviors associated with use can be difficult to distinguish from other drugs or mental health issues.
Once identified, managing individuals under the influence of bath salts can also be challenging. Due to the intense euphoria and altered mental state, these individuals may exhibit unpredictable and aggressive behaviors, making it difficult for healthcare professionals to provide appropriate care.

Using Bath Salts Along With Other Substances

Many users of synthetic bath salts also use other drugs, either to amplify the effects or counteract unwanted side effects. This can complicate treatment and make it harder to pinpoint the exact cause of symptoms.
Treating co-occurring drug addiction is imperative to ensure that the root of both issues is handled holistically and comprehensively.

Rapid Evolution of Compounds

As legislation bans certain compounds, manufacturers of these illicit substances often change the chemical structure to produce new variants.
This constant change makes it difficult to keep up with detection methods. It is also difficult to understand the effects and risks associated with each new variant.

Harm Reduction and Treatment Methods for Bath Salts

While abstinence is the best way to avoid potential harm from synthetic bath salts, there are strategies and treatment options available for those struggling with addiction. Additionally, education plays a crucial role in prevention efforts.

Harm Reduction Strategies

There are several harm reduction techniques that individuals and their loved ones can utilize to help with side effects of bath salts.
These may include:
  • Using smaller doses to reduce the risk of overdose.
  • Not mixing bath salts with other substances, especially alcohol or opioids.
  • Avoiding using the substance alone and having someone who is sober present in case of emergency.
  • Seeking medical help immediately if experiencing adverse effects.

Treatment Options

Treatment for synthetic bath salt addiction may involve:
  • Detoxification: In cases of severe addiction, detoxification may be necessary to safely remove the drug from the body. This should be done under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy: Without addressing the underlying issues that led to drug use, individuals may be at a higher risk for relapse. Therapy can help address these root causes and provide coping mechanisms for managing cravings and triggers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) are two therapeutic approaches that have shown success in treating addiction. A treatment provider will curate a tailored therapy program for each individual.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone have shown to be effective in reducing cravings and relapse rates for opioid addiction.5
  • Support Groups: Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery can provide a support network for individuals in recovery. These groups focus on personal accountability, self-empowerment, and peer support.

The Role of Education in Prevention

Increasing awareness about what bath salts are, along with their potential dangers, is a crucial step in preventing potential addiction from developing. Education efforts can target both the general public and healthcare professionals.
Most synthetic bath salts users are young adults, making it important to reach this demographic through campaigns and educational programs in schools and universities. Real-life testimonies, interactive sessions, and clear information can make these programs more impactful.
Ensuring healthcare professionals, educators, and counselors are well-informed about bath salts allows them to provide accurate information. It also helps them identify signs of use and guide individuals to appropriate resources when they are needed.
what are bath salts

Overcome Your Bath Salt Addiction With Ripple Ranch

Are you or a loved one struggling with synthetic bath salt addiction? Look no further than Ripple Ranch for expert treatment services and support on your journey towards recovery.

At Ripple Ranch, we understand the complexities of synthetic bath salt addiction and the challenges that come with it. Our team of healthcare professionals are highly trained and experienced in treating this specific type of addiction, providing our clients with the best possible care.

How Can We Help?

When you choose Ripple Ranch for treatment, you can expect:
  • A personalized treatment plan tailored to your individual needs
  • A safe and comfortable environment for detoxification, if necessary
  • Evidence-based therapies to address underlying issues and promote long-term recovery
  • Ongoing support and resources for relapse prevention
  • Compassionate and non-judgmental care from our team of experts

Therapies We Provide for Treatment

Depending on the severity of your addiction, we will work with you to create a specific treatment plan that helps work through all of your symptoms.
Some therapy opportunities we provide include:
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Recreational therapy
  • Trauma-informed therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Nutritional support
  • Dual diagnosis treatment

Get in Touch Today

Ready to take the first step towards overcoming your addiction? Contact us today and start your journey towards a healthier, happier life. We are here for you every step of the way. Let Ripple Ranch be your guide to recovery.

Remember, it’s never too late to seek help and start living a fulfilling life free from addiction. Join us at Ripple Ranch and make a positive ripple effect in your life.