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Updated on September 7, 2023
6 min read

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Bath Salts?

Alyssa Hill
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
7 Sources Cited
Alyssa Hill
Written by 
7 Sources Cited

What are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are “designer drugs” containing synthetic cathinones. Cathinones are plant-derived stimulants that inhibit the dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake system.

These stimulants create feelings of:

  • Euphoria
  • Talkativeness or increased sociability
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Empathy
  • A high sex drive

When drugs interrupt the dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake system, they prolong these effects and lead to addiction.

What Is the Main Ingredient in Bath Salts?

The primary ingredient in bath salts is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). It’s a psychoactive drug with the same stimulant properties as cathinones found in the khat plant, native to the African and Arabian regions.

MDPV is structurally similar to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance and stimulant.1 Its properties also act similarly to the chemicals in cocaine. 

Bath salts resemble a white or off-white powder and may look similar to cocaine. Some variants of bath salts contain other substances known for amplifying perception, including PCP, ecstasy, and cocaine.

Buying Bath Salts

Depending on where you live, there are multiple names for bath salts. Common street names for bath salts include the following:

  • Flakka
  • Bloom
  • Cloud nine
  • Scarface
  • Vanilla sky
  • White lightning
  • Blue silk
  • Purple wave
  • Red dove
  • Pure ivory
  • Snow leopard
  • Plant food
  • Ivory wave
  • Charge plus
  • White rush

Bath salts are typically sold in small plastic bags or foil packages and advertised on the Internet as “legal highs.” 

You can also find them in head shops. These head shops sell legal substances like marijuana but often sell other illegal drugs off the record. 

Because bath salts are labeled Schedule I substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), they cannot be sold or prescribed for medical purposes. Thus, possessing them is illegal in the U.S.2

Consuming Bath Salts

Users often snort bath salts through the nostrils. They can also be smoked, swallowed, or administered intravenously by combining them with a liquid vessel.

How Long Do Bath Salts Last?

A typical rush or high from bath salts lasts 4 to 8 hours. Some users can take up to 2 days to come down. 

Why are Bath Salts Dangerous?

Like most mind-altering or psychoactive substances, bath salts are dangerous because of their powerful addictive potential.3 

The more frequently someone engages in bath salt abuse, the more likely they are to develop tolerance and require higher doses to achieve the same high. 

The dangers of taking bath salts include the following: 

  • Decreased muscle control
  • Chest pains
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Brain swelling
  • Jittery behavior

Some users may develop excited delirium, where the body becomes dehydrated, breaking down muscle tissue and causing kidney failure or death.4

Effects of Bath Salts

A typical high from bath salts may involve the following short-term mental effects:

  • Paranoia
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Mood disturbances and psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Distorted sense of reality

Those lucky enough to survive an overdose may still experience long-term effects like hallucinations, paranoia, and psychosis resembling schizophrenia.


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Bath Salts and Alcohol Interaction

Unlike bath salts, alcohol is a depressant, slowing the functionality of the central nervous system. Combining bath salts and alcohol increases the risk of negative or lethal side effects.5

Like other amphetamines (psychostimulant drugs) and illegal drugs, bath salts alter the body’s chemical composition. It disrupts neurotransmitters that control a person’s well-being. 

As tolerance increases, the body becomes accustomed to the presence of drugs and takes longer to adjust. At the same time, the body ‘expects’ to have these abnormal chemicals and may react to their absence through withdrawal symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts and Alcohol Misuse

The side effects of combining alcohol and bath salts are often unpredictable because the body receives conflicting messages when processing a stimulant and depressant.6 

Concurrent bath salt and alcohol abuse may be suspected with these (relatively common) physical signs and symptoms:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased or decreased blood pressure
  • Sudden erratic behavior
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems

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Treatment for Addiction to Bath Salts and Alcohol

Treatments for concurrent bath salt and alcohol addiction are available through dual-diagnosis rehab programs.7 Patients suffering from drug abuse must undergo detox, especially if they have developed a tolerance for both substances. 

Gradual detox helps manage sudden withdrawal, identifiable through the following symptoms: 

  • Intense cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Violent, erratic, and unpredictable behavior
  • Insomnia and poor sleep quality
  • Rapid heartbeat and palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Paranoia
  • Trouble concentrating

When Should You See a Professional?

Seek immediate help for substance abuse if you or someone you know exhibits the following signs:

  • Causing harm to oneself or others as a direct result of drug abuse
  • Constantly engaging in risky behaviors
  • Struggling to quit despite multiple attempts
  • Unable to function normally without bath salts or alcohol
  • Facing severe consequences as a result of drug abuse (being expelled, losing a job, ending a relationship, neglecting responsibilities)

What Does Recovery Look Like?

Recovery is a very long process. It involves a combination of medical detox and supportive treatments to help a person cope with any problems that arise during the process.

  • Initial detoxification: The body’s physiology begins to return to a normal state
  • Supportive treatments: Therapy and support groups can help with the psychosocial problems that encourage addiction as a method of coping

How long it takes to detox from an addiction to mixing bath salts and alcohol will depend on the following factors:

  • Amount of the drug consumed
  • Frequency of drug consumption
  • Severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Medical history
  • Unique physical and mental functioning

What Does a Treatment Program Look Like?

Most rehabilitation centers offer 28-day addiction programs, with detox periods lasting between 7 and 10 days. 

The treatment protocol for alcohol, bath salts, and other drugs looks like this:

  • Initial assessment: Physical workup and psychiatric evaluation to obtain the appropriate treatment options
  • Enrollment in a withdrawal management program: Involves inpatient withdrawal management, as withdrawal symptoms are typically severe and potentially fatal
  • Formal addiction therapy: Undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, group sessions, and other appropriate activities; regular drug testing for residential patients

While medical detox programs are effective for patients with drug addiction, the best chances of success come with concurrent, long-term programs. 


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Where To Get Help for Substance Addiction

If you don’t have an appointed primary care physician, you can look up nearby:

  • Outpatient programs
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Support groups (such as NA or SMART Recovery)
  • Community mental health centers
  • Medical detoxification programs
  • Dual-diagnosis treatment centers
  • Private therapists and counselors

Common Questions on Bath Salts and Alcohol

How can you find help for alcohol and bath salt misuse?

Consult with your appointed medical professional. They can refer you to the appropriate program. Alternatively, you can seek addiction specialists in your area, contact a helpline, or find help within your community.

What happens if you mix Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol?

Mixing Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol does not increase solubility. It is unlikely that the Epsom salts will dissolve completely. While occasionally suitable for human consumption, Epsom salts can cause severe diarrhea, bloating, and an upset stomach. 

Can you die from ingesting bath salts?

Users can suffer from a fatal overdose of bath salts, especially when mixing them with an additional substance like other stimulants or a depressant, such as alcohol. 


Mixing bath salts and alcohol may provide temporary euphoria but also lead to intense cravings and, eventually, addiction or death.

You can avoid the dangers of alcohol and bath salts by understanding how they negatively impact health and seeking help as soon as possible. While treatment can be grueling and take some time, it can provide long-term improvement.

Updated on September 7, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 7, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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