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Bath Salts Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

When “bath salts” are mentioned, it is easy to think of the Epsom salts, which are used for bathing. But these bath salts are not the same as the addictive designer drugs whose amphetamine-type stimulant effects have in the past landed thousands of people in hospital emergency departments. 

The bath salts of the street drug world are man-made derivatives of cathinones, which is a stimulant found in the khat plant. The khat plant is grown in southern Arabia and East Africa. The plant’s leaves are chewed for their mild stimulant effects. However, as NIDA warns, these human-made cathinones can be more potent than the natural product as well as very dangerous. The cathinones most commonly found in bath salts are 4-methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). 

The white or brown crystalline powder is often packaged and sold as “plant food” “phone screen cleaner” or “jewelry cleaner,” making it difficult for authorities to track down where bath salts are being sold. Users can buy them legally online or at gas stations, tobacco shops, truck stops, adult book stores, and head shops, among other places. Popular ways to use bath salts include swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting them. 

Bath salts are chemically similar to stimulant drugs that affect the nervous system, such as amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA, or ecstasy. Some of the names they are sold under include:

  • Flakka (alpha-PVP)
  • Bloom
  • Cloud Nine
  • Lunar Wave
  • Ocean Snow
  • Red Dove
  • Scarface
  • White Lightning
  • Zoom

These mind-altering and mood-altering drugs can cause intoxication and other unpredictable effects. Some people use bath salts to become more social and boost their sex drives. 

However, negative side effects that can occur include high paranoia, delirious hallucinations, erratic behavior, and agitation that can progress to the point of psychotic violence. In May 2012, a face-eating attack that happened in Miami had similarities to other cases involving bath salts at the time, news reports said. Addicted users also exhibit signs of anxious behavior, experience reduced motor control, and seizures,

What Are Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms?

As the central nervous system stimulants, bath salts increase the amount of excitatory activity in your brain. After a period of frequent or heavy use, your brain might start to adapt to the presence of the drug, by altering the neurochemical balance, which leads to developing a chemical dependency. Dependence is caused when your brain starts to adapt to the presence of the drug by altering your neurochemistry

When you stop using the substance, you’ll start to feel the consequences of a chemical imbalance. Absence of the external synthetic stimulant in your brain and suppressed the natural production of brain neurotransmitters, you may feel the sedation of the nervous system.

Bath salts users who suddenly stop or reduce their use after a long period of use may notice physical and psychological changes happen. These symptoms may signal the beginning of withdrawal, a period when the body and brain attempt to adjust to changes in the absence of the drug. This period is uncomfortable and difficult to get through without professional help. 

Some bath salts withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Intense bath salts cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Amnesia, memory problems
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal congestion
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tremors

Stages of Bath Salts Withdrawal Timeline

There are different types of bath salts. The nature of their contents frequently change, which is, in part, responsible for their unpredictability. For this reason, it is difficult to establish a standard timeline for bath salts withdrawal. The accepted timeline for amphetamine withdrawal is roughly one week. The factors that typically help determine a withdrawal timeline are, however, still relevant, including:

  • How much bath salts someone is abusing
  • How long bath salts have been used/abused
  • How it was being ingested (snorted, injected, etc.)
  • Whether other drugs were taken with bath salts, such as alcohol and other drugs

A history of mental illness can also be a factor in bath salts withdrawal. Someone with mental health issues is especially vulnerable to symptoms experienced during this time. Depression and even psychosis, and these symptoms can last beyond the average withdrawal period.

How Dangerous Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts a broad category of unpredictable stimulants that can have a wide range of effects. The most prevalent mind-altering substance in bath salts is cathinone.  Cathinones are powerful stimulants that can be dangerous in high doses. Abusing the drug can lead to an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and it can even lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. 

Bath salts are also unique in that they can cause paranoia, hallucinations, delirium, and panic attacks. When these symptoms are combined with powerful stimulation, the results can be dangerous. A person that’s experiencing paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and stimulating effects might be sent into a fight or flight response while on the drug. This can cause people to get up and run away or even become violent as a response. This can lead to injuries to the person taking the drug or other people.

The drug can also cause a rise in body temperature, which is why some people under the influence of certain designer stimulants are compelled to strip their clothes off to escape the heat. The increased temperature causes excessive sweating. If you combine this with increased movement and physical activity, it can cause dangerous dehydration if you don’t get enough fluids. In the best case, you have a terrible headache when you come down from the drug. In the worst cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure and the breakdown of muscle tissue. 

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Why Should I Detox? 

Quitting drugs cold turkey may sound like a good idea, but it can be difficult, painful, and dangerous. In some cases, it can be dangerous and even deadly.

Given the difficult physical symptoms, withdrawing on your own without professional medical help can be very challenging. It’s important to find a professional, medically assisted detox program to support you during the process of bath salts withdrawal.

Doing this will ensure that you are carefully monitored in a safe environment while your body goes through the difficult detoxification process. Participating in an addiction treatment program also gives you a better chance at lasting recovery as a result of the structured medical and emotional support you will receive.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

A full continuum of treatment ensures the best opportunity for a successful recovery. Following a full continuum of treatment means starting with the medical detox process and then progressing gradually from an inpatient status to outpatient treatment. You will then have the opportunity to participate in an alumni program after the formal treatment program is completed. The stages of addiction treatment include:


The primary goal is medical stabilization during the first stage of withdrawal treatment, which is known as detox. Expect the detox stage to last from a few days up to a week. When you arrive, your medical team, which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff will complete your comprehensive medical assessment, which will help determine your level of addiction and additional medical needs you may have. The assessment includes a medical exam plus a urine screening for drugs.

Your medical team will monitor you 24/7 to help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent dangerous bath salts withdrawal symptoms.

Many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges during the detox period. Your treatment plan will also include comprehensive support to help you with these symptoms. A longer-term treatment plan will be put into place for you once you are medically stabilized.

Residential Treatment

If you and the treatment team determine that you need further medical treatment, you may continue the next stage of treatment on an inpatient basis, which might be because of co-occurring medical conditions or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment is intensive and includes 24/7 clinical monitoring. At this stage, you will start seeing a therapist regularly to help you process the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction and recovery.

Partial Hospitalization

Partial hospitalization (PHP) is in-between outpatient treatment and inpatient care. The goal of PHP is to stabilize your mental status and better prepare you for success once you return to independent living after you leave the treatment center.

During this stage, you’ll live at a transitional living facility while undergoing a supportive and rigorous treatment program.

This program will be five days a week for six hours each day.

You will be able to participate in individual, group, and family therapy programs to help you address emotional and mental health needs.

Person having trouble falling asleep in the very early morning.

Learning positive life skills, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help prevent relapse so that you will be prepared for long-term recovery will be the primary focus during PHP.

Intensive Outpatient

The next stage is the intensive outpatient program (IOP). An IOP allows you to live at home while also attending counseling and programs to help support your recovery. Depending on your treatment plan, you will participate in about nine or more hours of clinical therapy several times each week.

Intensive outpatient therapy will help you to continue learning new ways to manage cravings, stress, and other challenging issues that may arise once you live on your own again. After you complete the IOP stage, you will transition into the Outpatient and Alumni programs, which is also known as aftercare.


You will have the opportunity to meet other treatment center alumni during weekly support groups and social events after you complete the formal treatment program. These aftercare opportunities spent with other alumni members can help you develop new friendships and build social support with others who understand the recovery process.

Being a part of this supportive network can help you grow while focusing on your recovery and adjusting to life after the treatment program. It can also be a safe space to share relapse prevention strategies, new experiences, and techniques for stress management. Most of all, it can be a way to enjoy time with new friends.

 Why Seek Addiction Treatment?

Bath salts are extremely dangerous, and the use of illicit designer substances can be extremely unpredictable. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to bath salts or another illicit stimulant, it’s important to seek addiction treatment as soon as possible. Addiction is a chronic disease that can be difficult to overcome. It’s also progressive, which means that it can get worse over time without treatment. 

Even if it seems like it’s under control, addiction has a way of spreading to other parts of your life in a way that quickly gets out of your control. It can affect your health, relationships, finances, and even your legal standing. 

However, addiction is treatable. If you get the right treatment early, you can avoid some of the most severe consequences of the disease. Still, even if you’ve struggled with addiction for a long time, there is still treatment available. To start your road to recovery today, learn more about bath salts addiction, and your treatment options. 


Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Bath Salts. Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, February). Synthetic Cathinones ("Bath Salts"). Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). How long does drug addiction treatment usually last? Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, February). Synthetic Cathinones ("Bath Salts"). Retrieved from (n.d.). Neurochemistry. Retrieved from

Tienabeso, S. (2012, May 29). Face-Eating Attack Possibly Prompted by 'Bath Salts,' Authorities Suspect. Retrieved from

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