Bath Salts Addiction: Effects, Dangers & Treatment

Bath salts is a label sometimes given to the synthetic cathinones, a group of man-made stimulant drugs that people misuse for different reasons. Though the name may sound somewhat harmless, bath salts can be very dangerous and have a wide range of negative health effects. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 659,000 people aged 12 and older in the U.S. had used synthetic cathinones in the past year.1–3

If you or someone you care about uses bath salts, this page can help you learn more about their effects, their potential for addiction, and how to find bath salts addiction treatment.

What Are Bath Salts?

The term bath salts refers to different stimulant drugs that are chemically similar to cathinone, a naturally-occurring substance that is found in the khat plant. They are often categorized with other types of synthetic drugs as new psychoactive substances (NPS)—a designation given to certain unregulated, mind-altering drugs designed to evade law enforcement efforts.4

Today, many types of bath salts have been banned by the DEA and categorized as Schedule I controlled substances. This means that they have no accepted medical use in the U.S. and a high potential for abuse.1,5

Bath salts may contain one or more of a variety of synthetic cathinone substances, including mephedrone, methylone, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). These are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants with effects similar to those of other illegal stimulant drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy (Molly/MDMA).1,2,4

Bath salts can also be present in different illegal substances. For example, people who think they’re buying Molly—commonly purported to be pure, crystalline MDMA—might actually be purchasing a product that contains bath salts instead.4

It’s important to note that despite the name, bath salts (synthetic cathinones) have no relationship to the type of bath or Epsom salts that people use to bathe.2

To circumvent drug laws, synthetic cathinones may be sold under other false names in addition to bath salts, such as plant food, phone screen cleaner, or jewelry cleaner with the label “not for human consumption.”1

Bath salts may have different appearances or forms, such as white or brown powders sold in foil packets or plastic bags, or sometimes contained in gelatin capsules. These products can be misused by swallowing, snorting, or injecting the substance.1,2,4

Use or misuse of synthetic drugs like bath salts often occurs because people want to experience euphoria and other desirable stimulant effects.1

This is especially common among teens and younger adults, who may use bath salts because they are sometimes marketed as “legal” and are generally cheaper and easier to obtain than other illegal stimulants.4,6

Effects of Bath Salts

Beyond their potential for euphoria and other subjectively positive effects, bath salts use can have a wide range of adverse effects, including:2,4

  • Irritability.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Chest pain.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there).

Dangers of Bath Salts

The pharmacological mechanisms of synthetic cathinones like bath salts haven’t been extensively studied, and with potentially ever-changing chemical composition, the range of effects that people experience while using them could vary from one situation to the next.4

However, bath salts are reported to pose different dangers and potential long-term effects, some of which can be very serious. Case reports and some research studies have indicated that certain health risks associated with bath salts use can be fatal.2,4,6–8

Additional bath salts dangers can include:2,4,6–8

  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure).
  • Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature).
  • Muscle spasms and muscle damage.
  • Excited delirium (severe agitation and violent behavior), which can lead to dehydration, skeletal muscle breakdown, and kidney failure.
  • Severe paranoia.
  • Seizures
  • Risk of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV from using shared needles.
  • Overdose toxicity.

Bath Salts Overdose Symptoms

The risk of bath salts overdose toxicity can depend on the specific type of cathinones involved and may be complicated by the presence of other, unknown substances contained in bath salts, like ketamine, lidocaine, acetaminophen, and MDMA.7

Bath salts overdose symptoms may include:7

  • Aggressive or violent behaviors.
  • Agitation.
  • Paranoia.
  • Delusions.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Chest pain.
  • Seizures.

If you suspect that you or someone else has overdosed on bath salts, call 911 right away. People may require immediate, supportive medical treatment.

Some research has shown that an overdose involving bath salts may cause serious complications, such as stroke, liver damage, and acute kidney failure, as well as death.8,9

Are Bath Salts Addictive?

Yes, bath salts can be addictive. Research indicates that bath salts may produce neurochemical changes similar to those that occur during the misuse of other stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines.4,10

Additionally, people who use bath salts report that they experience cravings, or intense and uncontrollable desires to keep using the substance, as well as withdrawal symptoms.4

Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can occur when someone suddenly cuts back or stops using a substance after a period of continuous use. It’s possible for people to suffer from bath salts withdrawal symptoms, such as:4,11

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Tremors.
  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Paranoia.

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment in Mississippi

As there are no FDA-approved medications to treat bath salts addiction, behavioral therapies serve as the cornerstone of treatment during bath salts rehab.4

Behavioral therapies used for bath salts addiction treatment generally include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors related to substance misuse and develop ways of managing triggers so they can remain sober.2,12
  • Contingency management, which provides positive reinforcement, such as cash rewards or other incentives, for staying drug-free.2,12
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET), which uses counseling techniques to help motivate a person to make positive life changes and stick with treatment.2,13

People who use bath salts may have other co-occurring mental health disorders, which can complicate the treatment process and recovery. If you’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder, different medications and therapies are available to treat a variety of mental health symptoms and disorders.4,12,14

At Oxford Treatment Center, we specialize in the treatment of co-occurring disorders and use a “whole-person” treatment approach that addresses both the addiction and the mental health condition.

Additionally, people who use bath salts may be more likely to engage in polysubstance use (use of multiple substances at the same time) involving additional substances like opioids, alcohol, or benzodiazepines.6,15

People who use multiple substances may need to start treatment with medical detox to manage acute withdrawal symptoms and become medically stable before starting comprehensive rehab.16

We offer all levels of addiction treatment to suit a variety of needs. If you or a loved one is struggling, call us at to learn more about our inpatient rehab in Mississippi, treatment admissions, rehab insurance coverage, and other rehab payment options.

You can also get more details about your specific insurance coverage by filling out this quick and confidential online form.

When you’re ready to begin the road to recovery, we are here to help.

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