Investigation of "bath salts" use patterns within an online sample of users in the United States

Patrick S. Johnson, Matthew W. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


"Bath salts" are synthetic stimulant "legal highs" that have recently been banned in the US. Epidemiological data regarding bath salts use are limited. In the present study, 113 individuals in the US reporting use of bath salts completed an anonymous, online survey characterizing demographic, experiential, and psychological variables. Respondents were more often male, 18-24 years old, and Caucasian/White with some college education. Past-year use was typically low (≤ 10 days), but marked by repeated dosing. Intranasal was the most frequently reported administration route and subjective effects were similar to other stimulants (e.g., cocaine, amphetamines). Bath salts use was associated with increased sexual desire and sexual HIV risk behavior, and met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for disordered use in more than half of respondents. Bath salts use persists in the US despite federal bans of cathinone-like constituents. Self-reported stimulant-like effects of bath salts suggest their use as substitutes for traditional illicit stimulants. Data revealed more normative outcomes vis-vis extreme accounts by media and medical case reports. However, indications of product abuse potential and sexual risk remain, suggesting bath salts pose potential public health harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of psychoactive drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2014


  • Bath salts
  • MDPV
  • Mephedrone
  • Sexual risk
  • Synthetic cathinones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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