What are Synthetic Cathinones?
Synthetic cathinones are more commonly known as bath salts. Bath Salts are a category of man-made, synthetic drugs with Stimulant-like effects. According to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) , bath salts, or synthetic cathinones, have cocaine-like or amphetamine-like properties and induce psychoactive effects through their capacity to modulate serotonin (a brain chemical that stabilizes our mood). This may result in synthetic cathinones addiction.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) , synthetic cathinones are often produced and used to mimic the effects of controlled drugs such as cocaine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy), and methamphetamine. The Internet has emerged as the new marketplace for new psychoactive substances (NPS), playing a significant role in providing information on the acquisition, synthesis, extraction, identification, and substance use. Synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids represent more than two-thirds of the NPS available in this new drug market.
Street Names of Synthetic Cathinones
- Bath Salts
- Blue Silk
- Cloud Nine
- Ivory Wave
- Lunar Wave
- Meow Meow
Effects of Synthetic Cathinones
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), synthetic cathinone affects the brain in a manner similar to cocaine but is at least 10 times more powerful. Bath salts are known for producing a “high” similar to methamphetamine and can produce effects that include:
- Paranoia (extreme and unreasonable distrust of others)
- Hallucinations (experiencing sensations and images that seem real but are not)
- Increased wakefulness, concentration
- Increased sex drive
- Panic attacks
- Excited delirium (extreme agitation and violent behavior)
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
- Excess sweating (diaphoresis)
- Pupil dilation (mydriasis)
Causes of Addiction to Bath Salts
Synthetic Cathinones may act on the brain’s pleasure pathways, the individual experiences intense euphoria followed by related emotional highs. People might choose to misuse bath salts for a variety of reasons, including:
People misuse substances often as a way to “fit in” with a particular group or feel more at ease in a social setting.
Substance misuse may be a means to escape problems or a way to reduce stress.
People suffering from anxiety disorders, trauma, depression, or other psychological disorders may begin misusing alcohol and substances to reduce or numb personal distress. Individuals with substance dependence are nearly twice as likely to have a co-occurring psychological disorder.
Some people, especially teenagers and adolescents, are vulnerable to group pressure or the rationale that “everyone is doing it.”
Synthetic Cathinones Overdose
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)  now lists a number of the active ingredients found in bath salts as schedule I drugs, meaning they are illegal because they are understood to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, and no accepted safe use, so are deemed not fit for human consumption.
In addition to the effects above, reports of death from individuals abusing drugs in this class indicate the seriousness of the risk users is taking when ingesting these products. Because of the inconsistent way the drugs are made, avoiding overdose is difficult even with measured sizes since each package could be chemically different from the previous one.
Synthetic cathinones or bath salt withdrawal symptoms differ based on many factors, including the type of drug or combination of drugs you consume. MDPA is challenging to predict because there is not much known about its effects, especially in the long term. However, there are some symptoms consistent with bath salt withdrawal, in which you should be familiar.
Over time, it’s possible to develop a dependence on the drug as the brain gets used to the extra stimulus. In addition to this, your limbic system (our reward center) will start learning to crave its euphoric effects.
If you stop using MDPV or bath salts abruptly, out of necessity, or you don’t have access to the drug, you may start to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This is because a lack of dopamine causes most stimulant withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, the brain will struggle to produce dopamine at an average rate after using the drug, and withdrawal symptoms are due to diminished dopamine levels in our brain.
Symptoms of Bath Salts Withdrawal may Include:
- Slow thinking
- Intense cravings
- Feelings of foggy-headedness
- Muscle aches
- Suicidal thoughts
- Inability to focus
Synthetic Cathinones Addiction Treatment
With so many negative side effects, cutting out bath salts can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life. But before anyone can begin the recovery process, they have to stop using bath salts and allow the substance to exit their body completely. Only then can the body begin to heal itself. Once bath salts detox completes and the drug is removed from the body, people can begin to reap the benefits of a life free from the negative side effects of synthetic cathinones (bath salts) usage.
Following detox, most clients will receive recommendations to continue with their addiction treatment. Any addiction treatment program for synthetic cathinones should be integrated with individual or group therapy, mixed with non-addictive medications as needed, to reduce anxiety and depression.
Behavioral therapy can be used to treat addiction to synthetic cathinones. Examples include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Contingency management, or motivational incentives—providing rewards to patients who remain substance free
- Motivational enhancement therapy
As with all addictions, health care providers should screen for co-occurring mental health conditions. While there are no FDA-approved medicines for synthetic cathinone addiction, there are medicines available for common co-occurring conditions.
Find the Right Mental Health Treatment Plan with Secondary Addiction Diagnosis
During your rehabilitation, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
So, if you or someone you love is struggling with synthetic cathinones addiction, get them the safest help they need and deserve.
Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up West Palm Beach Rehab. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox and or addiction rehab may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.