Bath Salts

Between the years 2010 and 2011, poison control centers across the United States went from receiving 304 to 6,138 phone calls from people expressing their concerns about exposure to bath salts. The small, colorful packets purchased at the local convenient store or gas station lead some to believe that the substance inside is safe. But, according to Medical News Today, the synthetic drug is as serious and dangerous as cocaine and methamphetamine. Even though public awareness and education have helped to increase knowledge about the dangers, there are still plenty of people who do not understand the serious consequences of taking this powerful man-made drug.

A Frightening Discovery: Acknowledging Your Loved One’s Bath Salts Problem

If you or a loved one has experimented with bath salts, you’ve likely uncovered some of the myths regarding this dangerous synthetic drug. As Bath Saltsthe effects quickly take hold, you or your loved one can be lured into thinking they won’t be a problem. But those who continue using and abusing bath salts discover this isn’t true. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that continued use places the user at a high risk for overdose and adverse medical effects. Making the discovery that a loved one is using these drugs can be scary; by learning the truth you can put yourself in a position to aid someone you love in getting the help they need.

Myths Uncovered: Top Three Myths

Myth #1: These are the same bath salts you use for a soothing bath.
Many people who hear of bath salts for the first time assume it’s the same product as that Bath Saltswhich is used in the bath. It’s understandable why this can be confusing, but is an important myth to clear up. The products that people have been using in their bath tub for decades are made of sea salts or Epsom salts, essential oils derived from plants, and natural fragrances derived from herbs and flowers. This product is also not meant for consumption or ingestion, but it doesn’t contain the dangerous ingredients found in the synthetic drug of bath salts. One tip listed on the small packet of bath salts is a warning that the product is not illegal.

Truth: The synthetic drug comes in a powder form similar to salts for the bathtub. That is the end of the similarities between these two products. Synthetic bath salts, sold under the names Zoom, Purple Wave, Blue Silk and Vanilla Sky are generally snorted or taken orally. The amphetamine-like effects of this drug will cause you or your loved one to feel hyped up, euphoric or experience anxiety. Where Epsom salts and other therapeutic salts can actually promote health and well-being, abusing this synthetic drug leads to serious mental and physical health consequences.

Myth #2: They are made to mimic natural substances, therefore they're safe.
The confusion about bath salts being a natural product stems from myth number one. But there is nothing natural about the synthetic drug, which is completely manufactured in a laboratory. It’s possible this myth stems from the fact that bath salts began as a synthetic version of the plant known as Khat. Khat is a natural hallucinogen that grows in the Middle East and Africa. Similar to its synthetic counterpart, Khat is also extremely dangerous. Sellers of bath salts help perpetuate this myth by attempting to sell bath salts as incense and plant food, two substances many people think of as natural. Bath salts contain no natural ingredients and, even if they did, could not prevent the dangerous consequences caused by the chemicals used to make the substance.

Truth: Bath salts contain dangerous chemicals with psychoactive effects. These chemicals, such as mephedrone, act in a similar way to cocaine and methamphetamines, both of which are highly addictive and cause alterations to the brain. The dangerous man-made substance falls under the cathinone category of drugs. Its use produces stimulating effects that include an increase in energy and euphoric feeling. These two effects are generally what attract potential users to the drug. You, your teen or young adult child may be encouraged to use bath salts at a party or when hanging out with friends under the guise of feeling better or more energetic. However, the chemical ingredients used to make these synthetic drugs have proven themselves to be dangerous and deadly.

Myth #3: If businesses can sell them, they must be safe to use.
Bath salts are carefully packaged in small packets about the size of the small wet wipe packets you sometimes get at a restaurant. The colorful attractive packaging is made to promote these dangerous drugs as useful household items. Synthetically made bath salts are sold as incense, plant food and even as stain remover. Some consumers feel that a product must be safe if it’s sold on a store’s shelves, and they believe that if the drug was harmful it would be made illegal. After all, long ago drugs such as heroine were used for medicinal purposes and then banned when they were determined to be harmful.

Truth: The truth is that bath salts ingredients have been banned and legislators have worked hard the past few years to stop the manufacture and sale them. Unfortunately, manufacturers find alternative chemical ingredients to use each time one is banned by the government. In the meantime, public awareness and education has rapidly increased to help people learn about the dangers of abusing these drugs until they can be banished from store shelves.

Although the small packets of bath salts state that they are not meant for human consumption, that is exactly how they are used and sellers and manufacturers use the warning to justify sales. As the parent of a teen or young adult, it’s important to take part in educating your child about the dangers of these substances. Teens and young adults are inexperienced consumers who can easily be fooled into believing a product is safe merely because it’s on the store shelf.

Bath Salts Are Still Misunderstood: More Myths

Myth #4: They are just a party drug that gives you a little energy boost.
The stimulating effects of bath salts can give you or your loved one an energy boost, but it’s not the sort of healthy energy boost experienced Synthetic Cathinones Paranoiaafter exercise. Other physical and emotional effects of this synthetic drug develop quickly and cause serious short-term and long-term effects. Because they are often referred to as a designer drug, new users may be fooled into thinking they don’t pose a threat. But those in the medical and drug research fields know that the energy boost provided by bath salts will lead to several unpleasant and dangerous effects.

Truth: The initial energy boost experienced when you or a loved one use these synthetic drugs can lead to feelings of panic, anxiety and paranoia. These disturbing feelings are led by the hallucinations, disorientation and other negative mental and emotional side effects of bath salts abuse. Users of this drug have reported seeing and hearing things while high on the drug; when these hallucinations are combined with loss of appetite and lack of sleep, they can lead you or someone you love to become agitated, fearful and violent. When you or a loved one experience these side effects, you and those around you are placed at danger. Bath salts abuse has led people to commit suicide and attack those nearby.

Myth #5: Once the effects of bath salts wear off, there's nothing to worry about.
When you or a loved one uses bath salts, the effects can last from three to eight hours. Similar to other drug-using behaviors, those who encourage you or a loved one to use bath salts will tell you there’s nothing to worry about and you’ll feel perfectly normal. The early signs of bath salts use are indeed subtle, and this can trick you or someone you love into developing a false sense of security. Experimenting with any drug, including bath salts is very dangerous. Each user reacts in his or her own way; even though you or a loved one may not experience severe effects the first time you try bath salts, long-term use will bring long-term effects.

Truth: The stimulating, brain-altering and hallucinogenic effects of bath salts can definitely cause immediate harm and put you or a loved one in danger. But, with continued abuse, you will experience an increase in side effects, and the effect bath salts abuse or addiction has on your life will be damaging. In addition to the mental and emotional side effects described under myth number four, bath salts use also poses a serious threat to your physical health. Early on, you or your loved one may sweat excessively and feel dizzy. As abuse of the drug continues, it can lead to accelerated heartbeat, kidney failure, coma and brain swelling. Abuse and addiction can also cause an otherwise healthy person to have a stroke or heart attack.

Myth #6: These Drugs aren't addictive.
Manufacturers and sellers of these drugs would like you and other consumers to believe that this man-made substance is not addictive. Those who make money off of bath salts will deny that they serve as a cocaine-like substitute that costs less and prevents users from experiencing serious consequences. But these assertions have been debunked time and again by those who’ve invested the last years in studying bath salts and their effects.

Truth: Similar to cocaine and methamphetamines, bath salts abuse places you or your loved one at a high risk of abuse or addiction. The dangerous substance immediately goes to work on the brain of the user by increasing the release of dopamine. The naturally occurring brain chemical dopamine is a key part of your brain’s pleasure center. When you or a loved one take these drugs, the increase in dopamine sends messages of pleasure from the brain to the body. As the abuse continues, the brain will begin to associate good feelings with use of the synthetic drug. Eventually, you or your loved one will feel as if normal functioning cannot be achieved without using. The brain-altering potential of bath salts makes it dangerously addictive, both psychologically and physiologically.

Myth #7: Bath salts can't kill you like other drugs can.
Synthetic CathinonesHow can a substance that’s sold legally cause someone to die? Many users and the loved ones of users ask this question because, as consumers, we tend to place a great deal of trust in the public businesses we frequent. But the list of physical and mental side effects and reports of people dying because of bath salts use make it clear that death is one of the consequences faced by you or a loved one who uses bath salts.

Truth: Bath salts can and have killed in many ways. Because they are fairly new compared to other drugs, the statistics do not seem as staggering. But the deaths caused by bath salts are severe nonetheless. The mental side effects of abusing these drugs can lead to suicidal thoughts and cause users to become aggressive and violent. Additionally, serious physical health symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, or tachycardia, have led bath salts users, to lose their lives.

Myth #8: Treatment isn't necessary to stop using.
Because manufacturers and sellers have been able to get around the laws and continue making and selling bath salts, some people are still under the assumption that the substance is one you can stop using with ease. For this to be true, bath salts would have to cause no effect on the brain and would not provide feelings of euphoria and pleasure to users. The synthetic drug would also have to be free of chemicals such as MPDV and mephedrone, or chemicals similar to these, that stimulate the brain and leave users with tremendous cravings.

Truth: Professional rehabilitation treatment is a necessary part of quitting these drugs safely. When you or a loved one has abused this dangerous drug, attempting to quit alone can place you in serious danger. The staff at a treatment center will provide close medical supervision during the time you or your loved one detox from bath salts to help the progression through cravings and withdrawals. Once the detoxification process is completed, professional treatment components such as counseling and life skills classes help you or someone you love identify the reasons why and take responsibility for drug use. At the same time, new skills are learned to assist in making better choices and healthy lifestyle changes that promote sober living.

Myth #9: Once you quit using these drugs you're fine.
Going through professional drug rehabilitation treatment is the best way to quit using bath salts. Those who believe that drug abuse and addiction are weaknesses or character flaws may think that once treatment is finished, the cure from addiction is complete. But addiction of any kind, including bath salts addiction, is like a chronic disease. To remain clean and sober, you must practice life-long maintenance.

Truth: Aftercare is something that lasts longer than the few weeks following your release from treatment. After you or a loved one successfully stops using bath salts, you must work at maintaining sobriety the rest of your life. The support of a counselor or drug addiction recovery group can be instrumental in helping you recognize and steer clear of triggers that tempt you to relapse. Your new tools for coping with stress will occasionally be put to the test, but the strong foundation provided by your support network can help you make healthier choices and learn to deal with stress without turning to bath salts for relief.

Myth #10: No one knows the long-term effects. This could be a lot of noise about nothing.
It’s true that the long-term effects of abuse and addiction won’t be known for another 10 to 20 years. The newness of the drug leaves many questions unanswered, but those questions have nothing to do with the dangers of the drug. Rather, researchers have yet to determine the full extent to which bath salts can harm users physically and mentally.

Truth: The concerns over bath salts use and abuse are real, and those who advocate banning it have good reason for doing so. The majority of users are 25 years old or younger, and the severe effects of the drug places you or your loved one at great risk early in life. Most people in their teens and early twenties are getting ready to embark on a new phase in life, including attending college, starting a new career or entering a serious relationship. Getting involved in abuse causes definite health consequences, and it can also affect other areas of your life or a loved one’s life, too. Nothing is more heartbreaking than witnessing a loss of dreams and great potential cut short because of bath salts abuse.

Understanding the Consequences: Health Risks

The dangers of using and abusing bath salts are clear, suggests the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If you suspect your loved one is usingBath Salts Health Risks bath salts, don’t take chances with his or her health and safety. A person who’s under the influence of this synthetic drug experiences impaired judgment, along with many other mental and physical side effects. Paranoia, hallucinations, and anxiety can lead to dangerous consequences for your loved one and anyone around him or her. The severity of physical consequences, such as stroke, heart attack, swelling of the brain and seizure place you or your loved one at-risk for potential life loss.

 Reaching Out for Help: Treatment Is Healing

Take the first step towards hope and help by reaching out to a professional drug treatment center. The trained, knowledgeable and compassionate staff there can help you or your loved one safely through the detoxification process before progressing toward treatment. Your initial efforts may be met with resistance, but it’s important to continue trying to help. Seeking help for yourself or a loved one who’s abusing bath salts could be the one action that prevents serious harm or the loss of life.

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