The drugs widely sold as bath salts, and other similar names, are alleged to produce dramatic effects in their users. Perhaps one of the most famous incidents of apparent bath salt abuse involved a spate of horrific attacks, including cannibalism.
These instances were widely reported as being caused by these drugs, but after further information was unveiled, there was no evidence of bath salt abuse found in these cases. As a result, these drugs were widely maligned with little real evidence, and numerous myths have sprung up about their use. The facts about bath salts are disturbing on their own, but further investigation found that there was no evidence they cause “zombie-like” behavior.
The basis of these drugs lies in the khat plant, a shrub that grows in east Africa and parts of the Arabian peninsula. The plant produces cathinones, which act in a similar way to amphetamines. They act as stimulants on the central nervous system.
Signs and Symptoms
As with most stimulants, bath salt use leads to:
- Rapid heart rate.
- High blood pressure.
- Dilated pupils.
This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke during even short-term use. Bath salts have been associated with headaches and palpitations in a significant number of users. Increased sexual stimulation has been associated with bath salts, potentially leading to risky sexual activities.
Physical symptoms are not the only signs of bath salt use, however. If a loved one is using bath salts, you might notice that he has lost his appetite and no longer eats as much as he did. If your loved one is at school, you might notice that her grades have dropped and that her sleeping patterns have changed. For those who work, changes in work ethic and serious sleep disturbances might occur. The person might even lose his or her job thanks to erratic behavior.
Effects of Bath Salt Abuse
Long-term abuse of bath salts appears to result in effects similar to amphetamines:
- Heart problems.
- Mood disorders.
- Total loss of coordination.
Media outlets have reported serious disturbances as being a side effect of bath salt use. The Miami cannibal incident in May 2012 was widely reported as being a bath salts-caused attack, although the investigation could not determine the ultimate cause of the apparent psychosis.
Mental health disorders cover a wide range of issues, including severe depression and attempts at suicide. People might also self-mutilate and become delirious. Death is not uncommon.
Ultimately, the most dangerous side effect of bath salts appears to be addiction, which causes users to lose touch with reality and lose their sense of self-control. While there are few studies on bath salts that show an addictive potential, the stimulation of certain neural pathways indicates that these drugs work in a similar way to amphetamines, creating similar addiction profiles.
When a loved one’s bath salts abuse spirals out of control, bath salts rehabis an option. Signs that an addiction has occurred usually involves a pattern of abuse that is destructive and carries on despite negative side effects. Usually, this might involve missing school or work, a failure to follow through with financial obligations, missing family obligations, or recurrent legal issues.
Once an addiction has been identified, it’s best to talk to the person. The key is to persuade your loved one to get help. Aim to understand why the addiction happened and don’t take anything personally; the drugs may well be talking, not the person you love.