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February 2019: synthetic drug Addiction

Bath Salts Addiction

Synthetic drugs are drugs that are manufactured from man-made chemicals instead of natural ingredients. Synthetic drug abuse in the United States has been increasing.

Bath Salts is the name given to synthetic cathinones, a manufactured drug similar to amphetamines such as meth and MDMA. They are usually found as white or brown crystals, but shouldn’t be confused with Epson salts (actual bath salts that people add to their bath to relax). Manufacturers get around health laws by branding the drug not for human consumption, although when abused, they are generally snorted, injected, or swallowed. 

Users of bath salts can experience temporary feelings of joy and hyperactivity, but also paranoia and hallucinations. These effects generally last about three to four hours. As these are manufactured drugs, they carry serious and unknown health risks. They’re unregulated, with potentially dangerous and untested chemicals. 

Bath salts seem to be most popular among individuals aged 20 to 29 although almost 1% of twelfth graders had reported using bath salts in the past year. Additionally, another study found 29.3% of twelfth grade bath salt users were long-term frequent users (more than 20 occasions) as opposed to individuals trying, or infrequently using the drug. 

Dangers of Bath Salts 

Bath salts are as much as 10 times stronger than Cocaine. Since bath salts operate similar to an amphetamine on the brain, they can be very addictive. The drug interacts with the pleasure and reward areas of the brain, increasing the likelihood to develop an addiction since using the drug becomes associated with the release of “good feeling” chemicals. A PBS article uses an excellent analogy as to why bath salts are so dangerous:

Imagine the space between the nerve cells as a kitchen sink and the water as dopamine. In the brain’s natural state, the faucet, or nerve cell endings, are always leaking some dopamine, and the drain is always slightly open, vacuuming some of the chemical back into the cell. Methamphetamine turns the faucet on high. Cocaine closes the drain. Bath salts, researchers discovered, do both at the same time. (The Drug That Never Lets Go) 

The use of bath salts is also being linked to the development of psychosis and more research is still underway. Other affects include: hypertension, suicidal ideation, tachycardia, and death. Additional research also suggests that bath salts may impair functioning of the central nervous system.  

In 2011, the DEA temporarily banned three different synthetic stimulants found in bath salts: methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), 4-methyl-N-methylcathinone (mephedrone), and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (methylone). They found and subsequently classified these substance as Schedule I drugs. The Schedule I designation is used for substances with the highest potential for abuse with no medical use. 

Withdrawal Symptoms of Bath Salts

Bath salts are shown to be very addictive. Similar to other drugs that affect the pleasure receptors in the brain such as Cocaine and Meth, the brain adapts to the long-term use of bath salts and it can be difficult to abruptly stop use. Withdrawal symptoms can cause strong feelings of: depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

In 2016, approximately 115 people died from an opioid overdose every single day. Opiate addiction, and Fentanyl even more so, is extremely dangerous. If you or someone you love is struggling with pain, with Fentanyl addiction, it’s important to get help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that are available.

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Quick Facts on Teen Synthetic Drug Use

In 2018, a reported 3.5% of 12th graders had used K2 or Spice in the past year. (NIDA)

In 2018, a reported 6% of 12th graders had used narcotics other than heroin in their lifetime. (NIDA)

While the use of bath salts decreased in 2018 for 10th and 12th graders, use by 8th graders in the past year increased from 0.5% to 0.9%. (NIDA)

A reported 4.1% of 12th graders had used MDMA in their lifetime in 2018 data. (NIDA)

A staggering 47.8% of 12th graders had reported in 2018 that they had used illicit drugs in their lifetime. (NIDA)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are designer drugs?

Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs, is a term to describe manufactured drugs that are designed to circumvent laws around illegal drugs. Given that they are not natural, but manufactured, they designer drugs are often referred to as synthetic drugs. 

Between 2009 and 2014, the DEA identified between 200 and 300 new designers drugs from eight different structural classes, the vast majority of which are manufactured in China. The most common of these drugs are synthetic cannabis (spice & K2) and synthetic cathinones (bath salts). 

What is spice?

Spice and K2 are the more popular versions of synthetic cannabinoids, which get its name for using chemicals similar to those found in marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids affect the same brain receptors as THC, the mind altering ingredient in marijuana. It’s difficult to predict the exact effect spice or K2 may have on the body as it’s unregulated and the chemical composition may change. 

What are bath salts?

Bath Salts is the name given to synthetic cathinones, a manufactured drug similar to amphetamines such as meth and MDMA. They are usually found as white or brown crystals, but shouldn’t be confused with Epson salts (actual bath salts that people add to their bath to relax). Manufacturers get around health laws by branding the drug not for human consumption, although when abused, they are generally snorted, injected, or swallowed. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is incredibly powerful and dangerous. While similar to morphine, it is 50 to 100 times more powerful. A schedule II prescription drug, Fentanyl is classified as having a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.

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