A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Bath Salts Abuse Treatment

Bath salts refer to synthetic cathinones, and don’t have anything to do with Epsom salts or any other crystalline minerals or fragrances usually used for bathing. Named bath salts largely for their appearance and the fact that they were previously legally sold under that name, these crystals are made of precursor chemicals and are meant to mimic the effects of the stimulant drug khat, a shrub that grows in East Africa and the Middle East.

Bath salts are made with substances such as MDPV, mephedrone, and pyrovalerone. Up until very recently, baths salts were currently sold as a legal drug, either online or in drug paraphernalia stores, as bath salts or fertilizer. However, the government declared MPVD and mephedrone as illegal. Because teen bath salts abuse is a relatively new occurrence, research and knowledge of their effects is limited.

It’s important to note that because the ingredients in bath salts vary and often include things which have unknown health effects, abuse of this substance is very dangerous. There is no standard for bath salts, which means this drug is also often variably potent, increasing the dangers of overdose.

What Does Teen Bath Salts Abuse Look Like?

  • Since bath salts are made up of a number of different chemicals, effects and risks vary according to the particular dosage being administered. However, mixtures that contain mephedrone are extremely dangerous, in that this chemical acts on the brain like a stimulant drug, similar to cocaine.
  • The risk of addiction and overdose is extremely high. Bath salts also can produce intense cravings, similar to methamphetamines, which also contributes to their addictiveness.
  • In a recent study focusing on bath salts containing MPVD (which includes most bath salts), results showed that the substance had similar effects on the brain as cocaine, yet up to 10 times as potent.
  • Teens with an addiction to bath salts are likely to be in great danger due to the general low quality of the drug, and the risk of long-term damage.

Signs of Teen Bath Salts Abuse

Chest pains

Panic attacks

Increased heart rate

Paranoia & hallucinations


What Causes Bath Salts Abuse?

Peer pressure – teens are more likely to use drugs as a way to fit in with a crowd, especially if they struggle with self-esteem issues or want to impress others. Doing what everyone else is doing seems safe when you’re in a group, yet individual factors mean that it is still possible to get hooked much quicker than others, and synthetic drugs are generally more dangerous than other illicit substances due to varying degrees of potency.

Stress and depression – teens are more likely to turn to drugs as a way to cope with stress and pressure, especially perceived stress as part of a mental health issue.

The drug itself – synthetic drugs are often much more powerful in terms of effect than prescription medication or non-synthetic drugs like cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana. Bath salts are exceptionally addictive and highly dangerous because of their strong potency.

Request a Call

  • We are here to assist you and answer your questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

Teen Bath Salts Abuse Treatment | Paradigm Malibu


of 12 graders reported using bath salts in 2015


of 12 graders are already using other illicit drugs


is the age group most commonly abusing other stimulants, specifically the prescription drug Adderall

How Can I Help with Teen Bath Salts Abuse?

Learn more about their addiction – every addiction is a little different, yet there is a lot to learn about how addiction affects the brain, how drugs prime a teen for more drug use and compulsive, risky behavior, and how the substance itself can cause the equivalent of a chronic brain disease.

Help your teen continue their recovery – a support group is just one of several ways you can see to it that your teen continues to have access to plenty of recovery resources even after treatment. Residential treatment is often just the first step, and other ways to continue recovery include sober living homes or sessions with a therapist who specializes in teen addiction.

Work with a therapist to address your teen’s problems – addictions are often caused by some need to start using consistently to begin with. While some teens fall in with the wrong crowd or simply have a very low tolerance for drugs and develop an addiction much faster than others, there are also cases of teens purposefully using drugs as a way to feel better, or cope with school work and other responsibilities. Speak to your teen and your teen’s therapist about how you can help them figure out their new sober life and help them better manage their time.

What Types of Teen Bath Salts Abuse Treatment Are Available?

Teen bath salts abuse treatment is similar to other stimulant drug abuse treatment, such as cocaine or Adderall. Helping a teen cope with their addiction and get help involves first getting them to realize they have a problem and accepting said help.

Treatment involves helping a teen through the early recovery period, which often includes withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms, as well as helping them manage the thoughts and behavior that first led to the addiction. Sometimes, addiction can cause or be related to existing issues with anxiety, depression, or other challenges and mental health issues. Identifying a teen’s full breadth of issues is important before moving forward.

Withdrawal Aid

The first and most urgent step is to help a teen detox and go through the withdrawal process. While withdrawal from bath salts isn’t generally life-threatening, it can be difficult to successfully complete withdrawal without relapsing. The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on how addicted a teen is and how long they’ve been using.

Talk Therapy

Therapists work with teens during teen bath salts abuse treatment to help them address their addiction.  They do this by helping teens identify and discuss any possible factors that may have led to or encouraged the drug abuse, while giving them tool and resources to better cope with life while staying clean. In a number of different approaches implemented within talk therapy sessions, therapists help teens to begin making connections between their triggers, stressors, and resulting behavior.

Stress Management

While helping teens address these factors, therapists also teach them healthy methods and techniques of dealing with stress, communicating with others, and facing their urge to use.  By teaching teens how to manage their behavior, they help empower them to make changes toward a complete and long-lasting recovery.  Therapists also implement group therapy sessions and family therapy sessions, which are often a very productive and enlightening experience.  In family therapy sessions, therapists help to build a bridge of communication between the teens and their families, acknowledging how the families have been affected as well.

Teen Bath Salts Abuse Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

By working together with family members while teens are still at Paradigm, therapists help the families build the healthy foundation needed in order to be successful in their recovery once teens return home. Paradigm Malibu also focuses on providing teens with a drug-free environment that is conducive towards recovery, helping teens better manage their behavior while fighting against cravings, and continuing their treatment.

Access to Nature

All of Paradigm Malibu’s locations are built with a focus on creating a friendly and healing environment, keeping the locations close to beautiful natural vistas, local beaches, and/or parks. Having access to nature is important, especially for a young generation of teens often robbed of the simplicity of just spending time outside, in fresh air under the open sky. Being around nature has a therapeutic effect on teens and people in general, improving mood regulation and overall mental as well as physical wellbeing. It can also help a teen realize how much they’ve been missing out on due to their addiction.

Comprehensive Treatment

It’s critical to address a teen as a whole person, and treat their condition not as a single, excised part of a teen’s life, but as a condition created and grown through the teen’s experiences and personal struggles. Therapy is the primary form with which Paradigm treats addiction, and there is little to no pharmacological treatment for bath salt abuse. Avoiding relapses largely depends on a therapist’s ability to educate a teen on their own condition and help them navigate potential challenges and prepare them for a future after addiction.

Of any place that my parents sent me to, this is by far the best of the best. I was instantly welcomed and treated with respect. The counselors listened to me, helped me identify what the real problem was and why I was having trouble. The staff was in complete control and never let any situation escalate with any of the other kids here. Even keeping in touch with my parents was not seen as a problem. They were more than happy to keep my parents informed of my progress and I even was able to see them. This center was such a better experience than anywhere else I had been. I have been clean and sober now for almost three months, and was taught the skills I needed to learn in order to maintain after my treatment was over.
- Carl D.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Bath Salts Abuse

Are bath salts an illegal substance?

Some of the key ingredients – namely, mephedrone and MDPV – were outlawed in July 2012.  However, before this, bath salts quickly gained a reputation as a legal stimulant, drawing much attention from young users.  Following the outlaw of those specific ingredients, drug designers and manufacturers have since been working to come up with new versions of the same drug, with enough small differences to temporarily pass as a legal substance. Synthetic drugs can often be made with any number of legal precursor chemicals, making them very hard to track and outlaw. This is why it’s important to be aware of the dangers of these drugs, and how to identify them.

Why are they called bath salts?

Back when they were still legal, synthetic cathinone was sold as bath salts or plant food/fertilizer, often over-the-counter. Other known names included incense, jewelry cleaner, Purple Wave, and White Lightning. However, the name bath salts stuck the most after several headlines describing violent attacks from purported users of bath salts. One particular event, the Miami cannibal attack, probably had nothing to do with bath salts as the perpetrator had a mostly clean toxicology report, only indicating marijuana use that left his behavior unexplained. Some studies explain that bath salts may have a psychotic effect, causing patients to act erratically during a high.

Ready to take the next step?

Call now for a free assessment with a counselor or to start the admissions process.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Call Now