Bath Salts Misuse, Effects, and Treatment

Psychoactive “bath salts” are a class of stimulants that are synthesized in a lab and emerged in the United States in 2010.1 In 2020, 343 deaths involving eutylone—one form of bath salts—were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2

In this article, we will discuss the effects of bath salts on the brain and body, health risks, addiction, and treatment options.

What Are Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)?

Synthetic cathinones—often called bath salts—are a class of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants with similar effects to drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.2

Synthetic cathinones are made in a lab but have chemical similarities to the naturally occurring stimulant drug khat, which grows in East Africa and southern Arabia. In recent years, synthetic cathinones have increased in popularity because they are cheaper than other stimulants.1

Illicit synthetic cathinones are often marketed as “bath salts,” “plant food,” or other seemingly innocuous items and labeled as “not for human consumption” by head shops, gas stations, and online retailers. They are usually in the form of a white or brown powder that can be snorted, ingested orally, smoked, or dissolved in liquid and injected into a vein.3

Some other names for bath salts include:3

  • Ivory wave.
  • Bloom.
  • Cloud 9.
  • Vanilla sky.
  • White lightning.

Several synthetic cathinones are restricted under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. These include mephedrone, methylene, eutylone, and MPDV.4,5,6,7 Schedule I drugs do not have any currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for misuse and dependency.8

Despite being illegal, MPDV, methylene, and mephedrone have been identified and seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in products falsely marketed as research chemicals and plant food sold in convenience stores, smoke shops, and gas stations4,6

Effects & Dangers of Bath Salts

Many effects of bath salts are similar to other powerful illicit stimulants, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, or MDMA. They are much cheaper and more dangerous compared to these illicit counterparts.3,5,6,7

The desired effects of bath salts include:3,5

  • Euphoria.
  • Increased sociability.
  • Increased libido (sex drive).
  • Empathy.
  • Heightened awareness of senses.

Some of the potential unwanted effects and dangers caused by using bath salts may include:3,7

  • Agitation.
  • Delirium.
  • Psychotic behavior such as paranoia, hallucinations, and self-destructive behaviors.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Raised body temperature.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Death.

Individuals on bath salts often must be physically restrained and medicated with high-dose sedatives, so they do not harm themselves or others.9

Are Bath Salts Addictive?

Using bath salts does carry addiction potential. Using synthetic cathinones regularly increases someone’s risk of developing a stimulant use disorder, the clinical term for addiction to bath salts.1

A 2019 study found that many people who use synthetic cathinones reported chronically using them to prolong the effects, which led to more compulsive drug-taking behavior as well as a shorter duration of effectiveness each time they took the substance. These drugs not only have a potential for addiction but are deemed dangerous and individuals on bath salts often must be physically restrained and medicated with high-dose sedatives, so they do not harm themselves or others. Individuals who use bath salts may also use other drugs in combination, making side effects more dangerous and increasing the addiction potential.10

Withdrawal from Bath Salts

It is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking bath salts after chronic use. Some of the effects of bath salts withdrawal can include:9

  • Drowsiness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

Bath Salts Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with Bath Salts addiction, help is available today. Desert Hope Treatment Center offers inpatient rehab in Las Vegas, Nevada, and multiple other levels of addiction treatment to meet patients’ unique needs.

Call to speak to a compassionate admissions navigator about the different types of addiction treatment, using insurance to pay for rehab, or to review other payment options. Reach out today for a free, private consultation and start the admissions process today.

You can also verify your insurance coverage using the confidential .

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

The Price of Not Getting Help
When contemplating the costs of addiction treatment for yourself, child, or loved one, consider the costs, or consequences, of “things as they are now.” What would happen if the substance abuse or addiction continued? Rehab doesn't have to be expensive. We accept a variety of insurances. Learn more below.