Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Causes and Treatment
- Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts Withdrawal
- Symptoms of Bath Salts Withdrawal
- Withdrawal Symptom Severity
- Treatment for Bath Salts Withdrawal
- Inpatient Bath Salt Treatment vs. Outpatient Programs
- How to Care for Someone Going Through Withdrawal?
What are Bath Salts? Are There Withdrawals from Bath Salts Use?
"Bath salts" are the colloquial or street name for one of two synthetic drugs, Mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), both of which are psychoactive drugs with stimulant properties.
Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts Withdrawal
The body fails to adapt without repeated administration of bath salts, and numerous negative symptoms begin to occur. There is a paucity of evidence-based research assessing the behavioral and psychological effects of bath salts. As such, clinical reports of overdoses and user reports constitute much of the data on bath salts usage, dependence and withdrawal.
- Improved mood and cognitive function.
- An overall feeling of euphoria and stimulation, including sexual stimulation.
As with other drugs of abuse, quitting or rapidly decreasing the amount of bath salt usage in someone who has become dependent causes physical and psychological withdrawal.
Essentially, the body fails to adapt without repeated administration of bath salts, and numerous negative symptoms begin to occur, ranging from mild to toxic.
Symptoms of Bath Salts Withdrawal
There is a significant overlap in the negative effects of bath salts usage and dependence, and the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.
- Fogginess in the brain.
- Reduced capacity for memory and cognitive function.
- Violence and intense cravings for more bath salts are typical addiction withdrawal symptoms.
As a consequence, recognizing when someone you love is dependent on baths salts and/or in withdrawal from their use can be exceedingly hard.
Withdrawal Symptom Severity
Withdrawal from bath salts, like other drugs of abuse, is a process of returning an addicted individual's body to a state of homeostasis after artificially and repeatedly adding a toxic substance, thereby modifying physical and psychological function.Withdrawal is very difficult and extremely unpleasant.The stages of withdrawal mirror the frequency with which the toxic substance is excreted.
Moderate symptoms include:
- Gastric distress.
Severe symptoms include:
- Psychotic and suicidal behavior.
Treatment for Bath Salts Withdrawal
Bath salts withdrawal is extremely serious, and in many cases, the extent of the bath salt addiction can be so debilitating that someone who is dependent is unable to stop usage without expert medical intervention and long-term behavioral therapy.
The steps involved in the treatment of bath salts withdrawal are similar to treatment for other drugs of abuse in that acute and life-threatening symptoms are addressed as a first priority.
Inpatient Bath Salt Treatment vs. Outpatient Programs
Bath salts withdrawal can be successfully treated as part of comprehensive treatment for dependence on bath salts. As with treatment for all substance use disorders, available bath salts dependence treatment ranges across a broad continuum of treatment settings, services and attendant costs.
- An individual's symptom severity and financial capacity.
- A trained medical professional's assessment of the need for pharmacological therapy.
- The existence of co-occurring mental health issues.
- The social system in which they operate that either supports or hinders their recovery.
- The individual's expressed preferences.
How to Care for Someone Going Through Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from any prolonged abuse of drugs or alcohol is an arduous process. This is the case both for the dependent person, and for loved ones trying to be present to them during the withdrawal process.
Withdrawal from bath salts is no different and because of the way in which this psychoactive stimulant can affect the brain, additional negative side effects can occur during this process.
A particularly unfortunate feature of someone dependent on baths salts going through withdrawal can be a tendency towards violence.
Being attuned and aware of this potential is critical, and is a key reason why attempting to handle a loved one's withdrawal without medical supervision is not recommended.
- Knoll, J. Bath salts and herbal incense: Legal highs, medical lows. Psychiatric Times. May 25, 2012.
- Prosser, J et al (2012). The toxicology of bath salts: A review of synthetic cathinones. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 8(1), 33-42.
- Ross, E et al. "Bath Salts" Intoxication. N Engl J Med 2011; 365:967-968.
- SAMHSA. Spice, Bath Salts, and Behavioral Health. SAMHSA Advisory. Fall 2014. Volume 13. Issue 2. Substance and Mental Health Services Administration. Rockville, MD.