I. The Basics of Bath Salts Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the bath salts rehabilitation process as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from bath salts addiction.

Recovery from bath salts addiction often follows a rehab path that’s common with other stimulants. Since synthetic cathinones are similar to drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine in how they impact the brain and body, this makes sense. Potential treatment typically begins with an assessment or evaluation from a mental health and addiction treatment professional. They provide some recommendations for the next course of action, which could include either inpatient or outpatient treatment.

In cases where a drug can be physically addicting, as bath salts are, treatment may begin with detox. During this time, support is provided as the drug leaves the body and the person gets through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. This can take a few days or a couple of weeks. Post-detox rehab concentrates on therapy and other methods to help the person learn new coping skills, identify root causes and triggers for substance abuse, and develop and practice healthier options. As someone progresses through treatment, they typically step down. This involves participating in increasingly less structured treatments and therapy with the desire to eventually maintain recovery in aftercare, such as periodic group or individual therapy.

Description of the Four Steps of the Rehab Process

For more information, read our guide to the rehab process.

What Makes Bath Salts Rehabilitation Difficult?

Bath salts are considered new psychoactive substances, or NPS. These are synthetic substances that can cause a high but are not fully regulated for a number of reasons. For example, bath salts themselves are not regulated. Some of the synthetic cathinones that are used to create bath salts have been listed as Schedule I substances by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the past decade, and the DEA is always working to identify more of these substances for regulation.

Schedule I status for these chemicals can mean that someone dealing with an addiction to them might also face legal ramifications. If you’re caught with these drugs, you may have charges pending as you go through recovery, and that can certainly be challenging. Other reasons bath salts recovery can be challenging include withdrawal symptoms, misunderstandings about the nature of these substances, and not realizing that these products, which might be sold legally, create a danger for those that abuse them.

The Unique Struggle of Bath Salts Addicts
Bath salts…
  • may or may not be Schedule I substances, depending on what they’re made of.
  • lead to increased dopamine in the brain, which can make it more difficult to feel pleasure normally when you stop using the drugs.
  • are sometimes sold in legal stores under other names, which might create a false sense of security in people who use them recreationally.
  • aren’t as well-researched as many other drugs, which can mean some professionals aren’t knowledgeable or experienced in treating an addiction of this nature.
  • can cause severe, sudden, and potentially life-threatening side effects, even for users who are not yet addicted.

II. Bath Salts Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Detoxification is the process of allowing the drug and all associated toxins to leave your body without re-introducing it via additional use. Some drugs, including bath salts, create a physical dependency. Your body becomes tolerant of the drug, which leads you to take more to get the same high. Increased use of bath salts leads to increased dopamine and serotonin levels. These are hormones that are natural to your body and regulate certain functions, including how you experience pleasure.

But when your body is used to an unnaturally high level of hormones, it begins to think that’s the normal state of affairs. As you stop using drugs and your hormone levels drop, you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Those can make rehab more difficult because you may be in discomfort or even distress for a few days or a week as your body transitions to a state without drugs.

Professional detox treatment is designed to get you through this period in a safer, more comfortable manner. Detox medications are available to help with withdrawal symptoms from some drugs, such as opioids. There currently aren’t specific detox medications for bath salts and similar stimulants. Instead, treatment providers offer therapy support and may be able to help reduce some withdrawal symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers or medications for specific symptoms, such as nausea.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Changes to blood pressure
Changes to heart rate
Problems sleeping
Tremors or shaking
Hallucinations or paranoia
Anxiety
Depression
Decreased cognitive function
Feeling as if you’re acting or thinking slowly
Long-Term Symptoms Potential for cardiac damage
Potential for kidney failure
Long-term damage to muscle tissue
Off-and-one cravings for the drug
Depression
Anxiety

Prolonged use of bath salts can lead to serious health concerns

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, prolonged use of bath salts can create some serious health issues. This is especially true for anyone who abuses bath salts to a serious level of intoxication or for those who have developed such a tolerance through addiction that they need to use large amounts of the substance. Permanent kidney damage is possible. The chemicals in bath salts can also cause muscle tissue within your body to breakdown.

Bath salts are erratic in nature, which can lead to unintended side effects

NIDA for Teens also points out that bath salts can be made of all types of substances. They don’t always lead to the euphoric high that people are chasing. In some cases, bath salts abuse can cause erratic and illogical behavior, sudden and aggressive behavior, hallucinations, and extreme paranoia. These can combine to create a situation where someone high on bath salts is a danger to themselves and others.

Withdrawal symptoms can mimic or exacerbate mental health conditions

Common bath salts withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Those can all make it difficult to make realistic, logical decisions or push through the daily work required in recovery. And if someone is already dealing with mental health disorders, these withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to tell whether a mental health issue is out of control. These challenges make professional treatment during the detox period of recovery especially important for many.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on bath salts addiction.

III. Treatment for Bath Salts Addiction

Despite being sometimes sold under legal packaging as plant food or another product, bath salts are a very real drug that can require real professional intervention in recovery. Treatment options tend to center on therapy and other behavioral methods because there aren’t yet approved detox medications for those addicted to synthetic cathinones. Talk therapy methodologies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are one option to consider. Other potential treatments might include motivational enhancement therapy and contingency management.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Bath Salts Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.

 

14-30 days Hours Per Day:

24

Days Per Week:

7

Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.

 

3-12 months Hours Per Day:

24

Days Per Week:

7

Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.

 

14-30 days Hours Per Day:

6-8

Days Per Week:

5

Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.

 

3-4 months Hours Per Day:

2-4

Days Per Week:

3

Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available.

 

As long as desired Hours Per Day:

1-2

Days Per Week:

1-3

Support Groups Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours.

 

As long as desired Hours Per Day:

1-2

Days Per Week:

1

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Behavioral Therapies for Bath Salts Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy. It takes place in individual or group sessions and is meant to help someone understand how their thoughts and feelings might be impacting their behavior. Responses (behavior) to thoughts and feelings can be defined and then redefined to be more positive. Through therapy, the person learns these new skills and begins to practice them.

When CBT is used specifically to treat bath salts addiction, the person works with a therapist to understand what root causes and triggers may lead to drug abuse. Then, they work to develop healthier coping mechanisms and responses to those triggers.

Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentives
Further reading:

Contingency management interventions programs involve creating a positive motivation for recovery that is external to the person. These programs can be part of inpatient or outpatient programs and typically reward individuals for defined “good” behavior. Rewards might include extra privileges, points that can be traded in for personal items, or even gift cards.

“Good” behavior might involve working to meet personal treatment goals, attending therapy sessions, or passing a drug screen.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Further reading:

Motivational enhancement therapy is, in some ways, the opposite of contingency management interventions. It involves helping the person develop a sense of motivation about being sober within themselves.

Typically, MET takes place over a certain number of sessions and is meant to “jump-start” someone’s motivation for treatment. This can be an effective approach when someone is ambivalent about treatment or is not quite to the point that they are willing to put in hard work to recover from an addiction.

For illicit drugs that create serious physical dependence, MET alone may not be the most ideal option for everyone. However, it’s often deployed as a first step in an overall treatment plan.

IV. How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Bath Salts Addiction

With numerous treatment options and methods, it’s important to find a bath salts addiction rehab center that works best for you. Start by researching your options, and then reach out to a professional for assistance in understanding what your best next step might be. You might choose from inpatient or outpatient programs, depending on your current family obligations and recovery needs.

Since bath salts are somewhat of a new kid on the drug block, it is important to ask about a center’s experience in treating bath salts addictions. Each drug creates unique challenges in recovery, and working with a therapist who has helped someone through those obstacles before can be beneficial.

Finally, consider whether you want to seek treatment from a center that will remain with you on your path through recovery. Some rehab providers offer aftercare, and you should definitely ensure that your provider will help you at least plan for long-term recovery before you leave rehab.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.