Bath salts are a niche group of designer drug products. The full name is derived from cases where the drugs were disguised as a bath salt. The crystals, flakes, or powders often resemble Epsom salt but are different chemically. Bath salts are used to treat a wide variety of ailments and conditions by consumers all over the world.
There are two main groups of bath salt drugs are synthetic or man-made drugs and natural or organic salts. Many of the bath salts sold today are synthetic or man-made drugs, they are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, for example. Synthetic drugs have become popular as ingredients of many products that people use to spice up meals or drinks. Some of the most common bath salt drugs are Epsom salts (a powdery substance derived from ground magnesium sulfate), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium chloride. All of these substances can help stimulate the body's own production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.
Overuse of bath salts has also led to addiction and abuse of some common bath salts and other products. It is important for consumers to understand that bath salt addiction and abuse occur when a consumer regularly and repeatedly uses the substance to bring relief from a particular ailment or condition. Some products such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar are known to be potential toxins when abused. When synthetic stimulant drugs are abused, users may experience euphoria, increased alertness, anxiety, irritability, depression, and other physical symptoms which often mirror the symptoms of other addiction problems.
In addition to the more common illnesses and conditions, bath salt addiction and abuse can also lead to severe mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and hallucinations, dementia, and even kidney failure. Bipolar disorder is a condition where a person has unstable moods, including depression and mania. Bipolar disorder patients are often very unpredictable in their behavior and can suddenly become extremely violent. They have no specific triggers for displaying these extreme behaviors and tend to be drawn to places, people, and things that trigger strong reactions in them.
Schizophrenia is a condition where patients suffer hallucinations, delusions, and even auditory experiences. Certain types of schizophrenia have a hereditary component, but there are also a variety of environmental or psychological causes. When synthetic cathinone or other designer drugs are used, they can contribute to the onset of these conditions. Users may experiment with different combinations of substances, which increases their risk of developing an addiction. In addition to drug use and addiction, prescription medications can also contribute to schizophrenia and the development of similar mental conditions.
For people with psychosis, bath salts can trigger strong agitation, catatonia, hallucinations, hypnagogic hallucinations, delusions, and mania. There are several symptoms that are common to people with this condition. People who experience mania will feel extremely excited and irritable, even hyper. Hallucinations can include items seen during a flash vision, hearing strange noises, or seeing or hearing things that aren't there. Distressing delusions can include thinking you are having a heart attack, being overcome by a swarm of bees, and so forth. Bath salts can produce a variety of mental effects in people who abuse them.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that almost 20% of Americans overuse designer drugs like bath salts. Bath salts are not widely recognized as a legal alternative to cocaine or methamphetamines, but users still believe that it is a harmless substance. They often think that the negative reactions experienced by those addicted to cocaine or methamphetamines are the result of an excess of the "bad" dopamine in their brains. However, there is no evidence that dopamine levels in the brain ever decline below normal.
Dopamine replacement therapy, which is popular for treating depression and anxiety disorders, has shown some success in controlling migraine headaches, mood swings, and sleep disorders. But it has not yet been proven effective in curing people with addictive behaviors like bath salts abuse. This treatment may be helpful for people who have short-term memory loss or slurred speech, high blood pressure, hallucinations, and tremors caused by withdrawal from synthetic cathinones. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is currently conducting a study to see if bath salts cause kidney failure. If this turns out to be the case, doctors could prescribe medical dosages of lofexidine to patients.