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Bath Salts Addiction: Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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The drugs known as “bath salts” have nothing to do with the powdered salts used during a bath. They are known as bath salts due to the way they were initially marketed. To circumnavigate certain laws, the vendors of this type of drug would label them as bath salts, plant food and cleaner. The vendors indicated on the packaging that they were not for human consumption. This label enabled them to commercially sell these drugs while not technically violating any laws.

Bath salts are a type of street drug wherein the active ingredient is typically a category of drugs called cathinones, although the contents vary based upon how the drugs were made. Cathinones are a type of stimulant and have only been popular and available in the United States for less than a decade. Cathinones can cause a high due to the endorphins that it releases in the brain. The endorphins create a euphoric and pleasurable sensation that causes a craving for more of the drug.

In addition to the high that it creates, cathinone-based drugs also create psychotic symptoms including agitation, increased tolerance for pain, hallucinations and a propensity for violence.

Bath salt abuse can lead to increased cravings for the drug and behaviors associated with addiction. It can also lead to serious medical problems that may be irreparable. There are currently no medical uses for bath salts or cathinone, and it is unlikely that there will ever be a medical use for this drug.

Symptoms of Bath Salts Abuse

Symptoms of bath salts abuse are very noticeable when someone is intoxicated. These symptoms may include acting bizarrely, hyperactivity, responding to people or things that are not there and aggressive or violent behaviors.

People struggling with bath salts abuse will have changes in behavior and symptoms related to substance misuse even when not under the influence of the drug. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue – Due to the stimulatory effect of cathinones, people misusing this type of drug will experience tiredness as the effects of the drug wear off.
  • Moodiness – If the cravings for bath salts are not satisfied, moodiness or irritability may be present.
  • Financial stress – The increased cost of the drug and the loss of ability to work while under the influence of bath salts may lead to increased financial stress and the lack of ability to meet financial obligations.
  • Disruption of social life – Due to the antisocial symptoms of bath salts and the changes in behavior associated with addiction, those addicted to bath salts may experience disruption of their social life and close relationships.

These symptoms are associated with most types of substance misuse and may indicate an addictive tendency to bath salts or other substances.

Side Effects of Bath Salts

Bath salts and cathinones can cause severe and lasting side effects. These side effects include a physical component due to the stimulatory effect of the drug and a psychological component.

Physical bath salts side effects may include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe increases in body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Death

Psychological bath salts side effects may include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Increased tolerance of pain
  • Severe disconnect from reality
  • Severe mood swings
  • Violent tendencies
  • Disinhibition

The tendency to violence is one of the more well-publicized bath salts side effects due to a case in 2012 where a suspected bath salts user exhibited cannibalistic behaviors and ate the face of another person. People using bath salts have been described as having animalistic behaviors while intoxicated.

Side Effects of Long-term Bath Salts Abuse

The long-term side effects of bath salts relate to the damages that bath salts can cause to the organs of those misusing the substance. Heart problems are common, due to the stimulatory effect over-stressing the heart. This can lead to heart attacks of varying severity. The increased stimulation of the muscles that bath salts cause can lead to muscle breakdown, causing the proteins within the muscles to enter the bloodstream and cause irreversible kidney damage. The long term effects of bath salts also include irreversible brain damage and can lead to permanent disability depending upon the chemicals present in the bath salts. The risk of death with long term bath salts use is high, due to the possibility of organ damage and the severe symptoms that it causes.

Signs of Bath Salts Overdose

As there is no minimum dose of bath salts that is safe; any dose of bath salts could cause an overdose. The signs of bath salts overdose are an increased body temperature, chest pain, heart palpitations, seizures, changes in urine following bath salts use and psychotic or aggressive behavior. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms after using bath salts, call 911 immediately.

Misuse of bath salts can lead to the irreversible damage of internal organs and neurological function. Bath salts misuse is also much more likely to be fatal than the misuse of other substances. If you or a loved one struggle with an addiction to bath salts, the Recovery Village Ridgefield can help you. Call to speak to a representative and learn more about how we can help you to recover from a bath salts addiction.


O’Mally, Gerald F. & O’Mally, Rika. “Cathinones.” Merck Manuals. March 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.

ABC News. “Face-eating attack possibly prompted by ‘bath salts,’ authorities suspect.” May 29, 2012. Accessed March 11, 2019.

View Sources

O’Mally, Gerald F. & O’Mally, Rika. “Cathinones.” Merck Manuals. March 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.

ABC News. “Face-eating attack possibly prompted by ‘bath salts,’ authorities suspect.” May 29, 2012. Accessed March 11, 2019.