Synthetic cathinones, commonly known as “bath salts” because they are often sold under that distinction in order to evade detection by authorities, are a family of drugs that contain one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone. Cathinone is a stimulant derived from the Khat plant; it produces effects similar to amphetamines by flooding the brain with dopamine, which is instrumental in movement and reward.
Bath salts can be snorted, smoked, or, most dangerously, injected. Users typically take bath salts in pursuit of the euphoric feeling, increased sociability, and increased sex drive that they produce. However, bath salts have very negative side effects including agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, and death, and they can often lead to violent and aggressive behavior. Users also report severe depression and suicidal feelings when coming down off of synthetic stimulants like bath salts.
When synthetic cathinones enter the brain, they release a surge of dopamine that produces feelings of euphoria and increased energy. They also release norepinephrine, which raises heart rate and blood pressure, and they raise serotonin levels, which leads some users to have hallucinations similar to those experienced when taking a drug like LSD. While they closely parallel the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine, much is still unknown about the effects of synthetic cathinones on the body and brain, and the effects can vary widely between the different available synthetic cathinones that are referred to as bath salts.
Bath salts became widely popular at the end of the last decade as a legal replacement for the highs of cocaine and other illicit stimulants. In 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency placed an emergency ban on three of the most common synthetic cathinones. In July of 2012, President Obama signed legislation officially outlawing two of those, along with several varieties of synthetic marijuana.
Bath salts have shown a high potential for abuse and addiction. If you are experiencing addiction to bath salts and want help, call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline at 866.795.HOPE. Serenity House offers safe detoxification services, as well as a nationally-recognized drug and alcohol treatment program. Our counselors are standing by to help you develop a personalized treatment plan that will set you on the road to true recovery.