Bath Salts (Synthetic Cathinones)

Published on March 6th, 2014

Brief Description

Bath Salts are an new family of drugs that contain one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. They are typically found in the form of a white or brown crystalline powder. Bath salts are sold in small plastic or foil packages, labeled “not for human consumption.” They are often marketed as plant food, jewelery cleaner or phone screen cleaners. Brand names for bath salts include “Ivory Wave,” “Bloom,” “Cloud Nine,” “Lunar Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “White Lightning,” and “Scarface.” Bath salts can be purchased on line or in drug paraphernalia stores.

Bath salts cause severe intoxication and dangerous health effects. The synthetic cathinones contained within bath salts are known to produce euphoria, increased sociability and sex drive. However all of the effects of Bath Salts are not desired, many people experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; reports have shown individuals displaying psychotic and violent behavior, as well as reports of deaths due to its use.

How Are Bath Salts Abused?


Bath salts are taken orally, inhaled, or injected. This drug causes severe intoxication and can have dangerous health effects, with the worst outcomes being associated with snorting or needle injection.

How Do Bath Salts Affect the Brain?

There is still much unknown about how bath salts affect the brain due to its mixture of various chemicals; 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone as well as many other chemicals. These chemicals found in bath salts are similar to amphetamines and MDMA, producing similar affects.

When bath salts are taken the user will feel energized as well as agitated, that are similar effects to other drugs like amphetamines and cocaine which raise the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits regulating reward and movement. This increased level of dopamine causes feelings of euphoria and increase activity. The transmitter norepinephrine too is increased, the body experiencing surges that can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Bath salts increase brain dopamine levels in the same way as cocaine, however it is at least 10 times more potent.

Other affects of bath salts are similar to that of MDMA or LSD as the levels of other neurotransmitters and serotonin increase the individual may begin to experience hallucinatory effects. Recent studies on rats show mephedrone and methylone drugs raise levels of serotonin in a similar way to MDMA.

What Are the Other Health Effects of Bath Salts?

While there is still so much unknown about bath salts there are common reactions to this drug that have been noted by emergency departments and poison control. Those who experience undesired effects of bath salts may experience a racing heart, high blood pressure and chest pains, as well as psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks.

Exicted delirium is a common syndrome experienced by those who have take bath salts. Those individuals may experience severe dehydration, breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, and kidney failure. Intoxication from bath salts poses a serious fatal risk.

Studies on rats show that bath salts can be extremely addicting, regular use can result in the individual developing strong cravings, tolerance, dependency and strong withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug.

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