Bath Salts

Bath salts is a common name for a class of drugs known as synthetic cathinones. These synthetic drugs have nothing to do with the bath salts used for bathing which have no drug-like properties. The drugs in bath salts were originally derived from the khat plant and designed to produce a high similar to amphetamines like meth or other stimulants like ecstasy.1 These drugs have been linked to a number of property and violent crimes as well as incidences of suicidal or life-threatening behavior.

History and Facts

Bath salts originally emerged on the club scene in Europe and eventually began showing up in US markets. Some chemicals found in bath salts include methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone.2 These drugs were legal for a time, which led to a common misperception that they were safe to consume.3

As more information became available about the health and safety concerns related to bath salts abuse, the federal government and state legislatures began to pass laws banning the sale and possession of these chemicals.4 In Indiana many chemicals found in bath salts are illegal, and Indiana also has a "lookalike" law which bans synthetic drugs made to look like other drugs. 

Many producers responded by slightly modifying chemicals to avoid legal bans.1 Sellers often package these drugs in small, brightly colored bags with labels indicating they are "Not for human consumption".2 Since producers frequently alter the specific drugs involved, there is often no way for someone to know what they are putting into their body. These drugs are commonly marketed under a variety of names including:

  • Cloud Nine5
  • Amped6
  • Plant food1
  • Jewelry cleaner1
  • Phone screen cleaner1
  • Vanilla Sky1
  • Ivory Wave1
  • White Lightening1

Symptoms and Warning Signs

In 2012, poison control centers took over 2,600 calls regarding exposure to bath salts. They took over 900 reports in 2013, and over 280 reports in the first five month of 2014.7 Some individuals consuming bath salts have reported experiencing a state of "excited delerium" which has led to side-effects including dehydration and the breakdown of muscle tissue.1 Common side effects of bath salts consumption include:

  • Nausea and vomiting7
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate7
  • Chest pain7
  • Panic attacks7
  • Paranoia and violent behavior7
  • Hallucinations and delusions7
  • Seizures8
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior8
  • Death8


In 2011 a 23 year old died after inhaling MDPV, a synthetic drug common in bath salts, while swimming at a quarry with friends. The last time his family saw him he was hyperactive and speaking so fast they could barely understand him. The county coroner found no other drugs in his system.3

In 2012 a 28 year old man was found dead in a Vermont residence along with large amounts of chemicals. Vermont's chief medical examiner determined the cause of death to be acute intoxication due to compounds MDPV, Alpha-PVP, and Pentylone, all chemicals commonly found in bath salts. It was later discovered he had also been selling these drugs over the Internet.9

In 2011 a 21 year old Louisiana man died after ingesting bath salts, marketed as "Cloud Nine". After experiencing a number of psychotic episodes over several days the man attempted suicide more than once and eventually took his own life.5

In 2013 a New York man was convicted of a number of misdemeanor charges after breaking into numerous buildings, causing damage. Officers arrested the 32 year old man as he was jumping from roof to roof, fleeing from police.10 According to family members, the man had been taking a form of bath salts known as "Amped" which he purchased from a local convenience store.6

Recovery and Help

If you are concerned about the warning signs of synthetic drug addiction in the life of someone you know or love, there is help. The resources page of our website has links to more information about bath salts as well as contact information for facilities in Elkhart County that can assist individuals in reclaiming their lives from the influence of addiction.