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Substance Use: Common Drugs

Bath Salts

​​​​​​​Bath salts are not the same as Epsom salts, scented crystals, or what you put in your bath. Bath salts are the name of a drug that comes in the form of a white or off-white powder that looks like salt. They also come in tablet and capsule form. Bath salts contain man-made, amphetamine-like stimulants called cathinones (e.g., 3, 4 MDPV, methylone, mephedone).

Bath salts are sold on the Internet, in convenience stores, and in drug paraphernalia shops (head shops). Bath salts are made to look like actual bath salts (the kind you use in the bath) or plant food. They’re often sold in small, foil packages labeled as phone cleaner or plant food. The packages often have a label that says “not for human consumption”. Selling the drug this way makes it harder for the police to monitor.

How do you use bath salts?

You can sniff, snort, eat, smoke, or inject (as a solution) bath salts. They can also be used rectally. Most people snort them.

What other names do people call bath salts?

Other names for bath salts are:
  • Red Dove or White Dove
  • Zoom or Bloom
  • Salt
  • Cloud Nine
  • White, White Knight, or White Lightning
  • Scarface
  • Lunar Wave, Purple Wave, or Ivory Wave
  • Star Dust or Pixie Dust
  • Vanilla Sky or Purple Sky
  • Purple Rain
  • Pure Ivory
  • Plant Food
  • Rush or White Rush
  • Blizzard or Snow Leopard
  • Super Coke
  • Hurricane Charlie or Crash
  • Bliss

Are bath salts illegal?

Yes. MDPV (one of the main ingredients in bath salts) is illegal in Canada. It’s classified in the same group as cocaine and heroin. That means if you're caught buying or selling it, or even having it in your possession, you can get a fine, be arrested or go to jail.

What short-term effects do bath salts cause?

Not a lot of research has been done on bath salts. Bath salts stimulate the nervous and cardiovascular systems. The effects depend on what combinations of drugs are in them.

Drug effects (the highs) start within 10 to 20 minutes and can last up to 4 hours. Some effects are more serious than others. When using bath salts, you might have any of these short-term physical effects:

  • fast heart rate (feels like your heart is racing)
  • high blood pressure
  • dilated pupils
  • chest pain
  • seizures or tremors
  • sweating or fever
  • dizziness or ringing in the ears
  • nosebleeds
  • blurred vision
  • less muscle control
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sudden muscle contractions
  • thirst
  • teeth grinding or clenching the jaw

When you use bath salts, you might have any of these short-term psychological effects (some are more serious than others):

  • feel high (euphoric)
  • feel more alert and aware
  • feel like you need less food and sleep
  • feel agitated, angry, or aggressive
  • feeling anxious or have panic attacks
  • feel irritable or depressed
  • being confused or paranoid
  • having delusions or hallucinations
  • increased sex drive
  • having a strong craving to take more bath salts

People that use bath salts might also have a false sense of reality (psychosis), harm themselves, and even die.

What long-term effects do bath salts cause?

Not a lot of research has been done on the long-term effects of bath salts but users and healthcare providers report that the drug has a high risk for abuse. Some possible long-term effects may include:

  • mood swings, depression, or other mental health problems
  • development of Parkinson’s disease
  • kidney damage or failure
  • liver damage or failure
  • muscle loss or pain

Will I have symptoms of withdrawal from bath salts?

You may have withdrawal symptoms from using bath salts. Symptoms may include:

  • being impulsive
  • depression
  • not feeling pleasure doing things that used to be fun
  • not being able to concentrate
  • cravings for the drug

For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Addiction Helpline (Alberta only).

Current as of: April 1, 2017

Author: Poison & Drug Information Service, Alberta Health Services