Bath Salts: Innocent Name, Terrifying Effects

Last Updated on October 23, 2023

bath salts addiction

Bath salts (not to be confused with Epsom salts) are designer drugs with a very misleading name. These synthetic drugs have been the cause of many disturbing news headlines over the past several years, detailing incidents involving bath salts abusers behaving in disturbing, paranoid, and downright dangerous ways.

In an interview with PBS Newshour, Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, said patients were showing up in emergency rooms violent and hallucinating. “These guys were seeing things like monsters, demons, and aliens, and those were consistent terms,” Ryan said. “We didn’t ask, ‘Are you seeing monsters and aliens?’ They were telling us that.”

What are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are a family of chemicals that are comprised of synthetic cathinones and classified as a synthetic drug. In harsh contrast to their innocent labeling, the effects of the drug are often bizarre and terrifying for those who use it. Bath salts have caused headlines around the country with reports of those taking them seeing intense hallucinations and, in many cases, harming themselves or others.

Bath Salts Ingredients

At the root of bath salts is Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV; a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties, which also acts to prevent removal of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine from the synapse. In simple terms, this means that bath salts work to first flood the brain with dopamine and then block reuptake. Other drugs like meth will cause dopamine surges, cocaine will block reuptake, but only bath salts cause both to happen at the same time. It’s a dangerous combination with long-term effects.

Street Names for Bath Salts

Bath salts are being sold on the streets with many street names like:1

·         Bloom·         Cloud Nine

·         Vanilla Sky

·         Ivory Wave

·         Flakka

·         Blue Silk

·         Purple Sky

·         Bliss

·         Purple Wave

·         Zoom·         Bloom

·         Ocean Snow

·         White Lightning

·         Lunar Wave

·         Scarface

·         Hurricane Charlie

·         Meow Meow

·         Pure Ivory

·         White Night·         Snow Leopard

·         Charge Plus

·         White Dove

·         Plant fertilizer

·         Plant food

·         Drone

·         Energy-1

·         Red Dove

Bath Salts Effects

Immediate side effects of bath salts abuse may include:1,2

·         Rapid heart rate·         High blood pressure

·         Elevated body temperature

·         Muscle spasms/tremors

·         Seizures

·         Headache

·         Dizziness

·         Nausea

·         Cold fingers

·         Intense hallucinations·         Panic attacks

·         Paranoia

·         Agitation

·         Insomnia

·         Irritability

·         Violent behaviors

·         Suicidal behavior

·         Overdose1,2

Over time, the ongoing abuse of bath salts may also cause additional serious health issues. Long-term effects of bath salts include:2

·         Organ damage·         Organ failure

·         Permanent brain damage

·         Malnutrition

·         Depression

·         Loss of muscle coordination

·         Psychosis·         Heart attack

·         Stroke

·         Increased risk of cancer

·         Addiction

·         Death

Bath Salts Horror Stories

There have been several reports, firsthand experiences, and eyewitness testimonies detailing disturbing events that happened because of bath salts abuse. The following occurrences are just a few examples of real-life bath salts horror stories.

  • A man who was high on bath salts was caught drinking hand sanitizer at a Kentucky grocery store.3
  • After ingesting bath salts, one man believed that his car was melting, and electricity was following him, so he ditched it on the highway, broke into a house, and hopped onto the hood of two different vehicles.4
  • One bath salts user broke into a monastery and attacked a sleeping priest with a knife and a wooden mallet.5
  • A man who was high on bath salts broke into an Ohio family’s home and put up Christmas decorations before being arrested by local authorities.6
  • After snorting bath salts with his roommate, a man called the police to report 30 intruders in his house. When they arrived, he claimed the intruders were hiding by blending into surrounding objects like chairs and trees.7
  • A man was stopped by police after driving very slowly past an industrial park in Northwest Indiana. After being questioned by police, the man said he was on a mission from God and claimed to be “one of the last three witnesses.”8
  • After ingesting bath salts, one couple attempted to stab 90 people whom they believed were living in the walls of their apartment, putting their five-year-old daughter in extreme danger in the process.9

Bath Salts Addiction

Bath salts addiction can be extremely harmful or even deadly. In a recent study at Scripps Research Institute, researchers discovered that the active ingredient in bath salts, MDPV, is far more addictive than methamphetamine, which is considered to be one of the most addictive substances known.

In the study, rats were given the option to self-administer doses of meth or MDPV (bath salts) with a lever push. When the researchers increased the number of pushes it took to get a dose, they found that the rats would average about 60 attempts for meth, but would attempt 600 to 3,000 lever pushes to get another dose of MDPV. In essence, rats were willing to work much much harder to get at MDPV.

This finding proves addiction to bath salts is possible and mirrors the claims of those who have taken bath salts. Many users of the drug have said that when they finally come off it, they are hit with intense cravings to do the drug again, often despite terrifying or negative experiences they may have had.

Are Bath Salts Illegal?

Bath salts are illegal in the U.S. and being in possession of these drugs or selling any product that contains them is against the law. However, in the past, bath salts were frequently sold in packaging that was marked with the warning “not for human consumption” which allowed manufacturers to evade the law.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recently announced the emergency scheduling of MDPV, mephedrone, and methylone (chemicals found in bath salts), and in July of 2012, President Barack Obama signed a law that banned these chemicals and put them on the Schedule 1 controlled substances list.1,2

Why are Bath Salts Dangerous?

There are two primary reasons why bath salts are so dangerous:

  1. Unpredictable ingredients and potency: While many of the ingredients used to make bath salts have been banned, drug makers have tweaked the formulas, finding ways to get around the laws. This means that there is no set formula for the drug, and no reliable way to know what it contains or even what constitutes a “dose.” Tests have shown that some packages of bath salts contained 17 milligrams of MDPV while others contained over 2,000 milligrams.
  2. Addictive qualities and potential for serious, long-term damage: Bath salts are highly addictive, have the potential to cause permanent damage to the brains of those who consume them and can stay in a person’s system for days or even weeks. So, despite the benign name, bath salts are a highly dangerous drug that hits hard and doesn’t let go.

Bath Salts Abuse Statistics

  • About two-thirds of ER visits in 2011 involving bath salts also involved other drugs.11
  • 266 bath salts exposures were reported in the first half of 2016.11
  • Data suggests the abuse of bath salts is increasing, from 142 bath salts poisoning in the first half of 2010 to 7,997 in the first half of 2013.12
  • About 1 in 5 teens who tried bath salts reported using the drug more than 40 times.13

Treatment for Bath Salts Addiction

Recovery from bath salts addiction is possible and, in most cases, is necessary to save a life. Bath salts are very dangerous and deadly designer drugs and addiction should be addressed as soon as possible.

Effective treatment for bath salts addiction, like many other drugs, should include several different episodes of treatment, including detox, inpatient and/or outpatient rehab, and sober living. With a comprehensive addiction treatment program, those who need bath salts addiction help can get the treatment they need, overcome their addiction, and start living a rewarding, sober life.

Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about our drug addiction treatment programs for adults suffering from bath salts addiction.


  1. https://www.drugs.com/illicit/bath-salts.html
  2. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/effects-of-bath-salts-abuse/
  3. http://www.wdrb.com/story/14893249/police-man-arrested-after-drinking-hand-sanitizer-at-kroger
  4. https://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/03/man_high_on_bath_salts_thought.html
  5. https://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/crazy-stories-about-people-being-arrested-high-on
  6.  https://www.whio.com/
  7. http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/2011/02/24/medina-man-allegedly-goes-bonkers-on-bath-salts/
  8. https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/portage/police-man-snorted-bath-salts-said-he-was-on-a/article_583ffd4d-de1e-5c30-b66e-af17304cf275.html
  9. https://www.timesleader.com/archive/171598
  10. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
  11. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633323/
  13. https://www.newsweek.com/one-percent-teens-use-bath-salts-survey-says-354485
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