Salts are synthetic drugs used in powders, pills and mixtures, including smoking mixtures. Under their influence, a person may behave inadequately. And even hallucinations and delusions can occur, which are observed in schizophrenia. There is no direct connection between this psychopathology and drugs, but we cannot exclude the latter’s influence on the former’s development. We will consider this question in more detail in the article.
What are salts
Salts are dangerous synthetic drugs that cause chemical addiction after only one or two uses. Long-term use of such substances, which can be powders, smoking mixtures, and pills, can lead to various diseases, not only bodily ones. Salts can provoke psychosis and very dangerous schizophrenia.
It does not mean that they will be directly responsible for developing psychopathology. However, it can contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. A little later, we will analyze the connection. First, we must understand how such drugs directly affect the body and psyche and how schizophrenia occurs.
Salts look like a powder of white or blue colour, resembling small crystals. They can also be in the form of a fine powder, like flour, but sometimes resemble small pebbles. That is why they are called this drug because it resembles salt. They can be snorted, injected intravenously, smoked, or eaten.
After injections, the effect comes instantly, but after inhalation – in 15-20 minutes. The so-called “rush” is different for everyone. Some people just get hung up on an idea or a case. But at the same time, they are likely to jump from one topic to another during a conversation. But in all cases, no matter what people do when they are under the influence of salts, they are very enthusiastic, sometimes even passionate.
After use, the person feels as if he is all-powerful. The body works hard. The addict may not eat or sleep for days or even weeks. After coming out of such a state, he wants to return to it because he doesn’t feel the same joy and freedom as after taking salts. It is why addiction develops quickly.
In addition, such substances are manufactured in an artisanal way. Their composition is constantly changing. A person who takes different salts begins to increase the dosage gradually. In this case, some synthetic components are practically not eliminated from the body. Undoubtedly, they have a devastating effect on almost all organs.
The symptoms of salt use are quite conspicuous. It is not always clear that a person is on drugs. But strangeness in his behaviour is noticed by everyone. Sometimes these “oddities” look like symptoms of mental disorders. Let us list the main signs by which you can identify a salt addict:
- Severe dilation of the pupils, insane staring.
- Numerous rashes on the skin.
- Dark circles around the eyes.
- Chaotic gesticulation, overexcited.
- Wet and cold hands.
- Constant thirst, the person drinks a lot and often.
- Wobbly, unsteady gait, like a drunk.
These are only outward signs observed within two hours of taking the drug. However, the behaviour of the addict also changes, not only after the use but also during the breaks. The person becomes different. He neglects his hobbies, changes and narrows his social circle, and isolates himself.
The withdrawal nausea, vomiting, cramps, muscle and headaches, stool disorders, paranoia, fear, etc., disturb.
He also has symptoms typical of the negative phase of schizophrenic disorders. We are talking about apathy, lack of initiative, desire, and inability to have fun.
The addict becomes secretive, suspicious, and nervous. Cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration, also suffer. The person practically ceases to be fond of something and drops out of school or work. There is physical, moral, and intellectual degradation.
Effects on the Body
The consequences of the use of salts for the body may be the following:
- Heart pain, a rise in blood pressure, and cardiovascular system abnormalities develop.
- Problems with the gastrointestinal tract, lack of appetite, severe weight loss, and dystrophy.
- The emergence or exacerbation of respiratory diseases and respiratory disorders.
- Erectile dysfunction in men, reproductive system defects in women.
- Brain and mental damage, exacerbation of mental illness, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, constant anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
If we talk about hallucinations, they are not frequent – auditory and visual. During withdrawal or severe intoxication, a person may hear voices or see images that are not present in reality. But delusions develop more often, especially delusions related to persecution. The addict is afraid and does not trust anyone, does not open the door, does not answer the phone, etc. These symptoms are indicative of impaired mental function.
The latter signs resemble mental disorders, including schizophrenia. And both negative and positive symptoms of it. Does this mean that salts can provoke diseases of the schizophrenic spectrum? It’s not that simple. The destructive effects of many drugs on the psyche are proven and undeniable. But salts, as a rule, cannot be a direct cause of schizophrenia development.
Schizophrenia is an endogenous disease that affects the human psyche, primarily thinking. It affects about 1% of people. The complexity of this psychopathology lies mainly in two factors. First, its causes and the exact mechanism of development are unknown. Secondly, schizophrenia is so unpredictable that it is difficult to predict its development and outcome and 100% impossible.
If we talk about the causes, we often talk about genetic conditioning. If a person has or has had people with mental disorders in his family, the likelihood of such diseases increases. The closer the degree of kinship, the higher the risk. For example, a child with two schizophrenic parents has about 50%.
However, 50% is a high probability, but not a total one. It means that the genetic factor is not determinative. Even its presence does not always lead to the development of schizophrenia. At the same time, several factors can hypothetically provoke psychopathology, especially if there is a hereditary predisposition to it. These triggers include trauma, violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
Psychoses that develop against a substance abuse background are more difficult to treat and have a more unpredictable course.
It being the case, it is worth understanding that drug addiction as a background of schizophrenia is not a direct cause of the mental disorder. It only serves as a trigger for an already existing mental illness that has not yet manifested itself.
Moreover, people with schizophrenia, especially during negative symptoms, often look for ways to cheer themselves up with psychoactive substances. Therefore, such patients are prone to alcoholism and drug addiction.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
As noted, schizophrenia has two types of symptoms – positive (productive) and negative. The first appears when the psyche is active. In such a condition, the person is disturbed by delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, and catatonia. The symptoms are determined by the type and form of the disease. The three signs listed above are characteristic of paranoid and hebephrenic schizophrenia. However, their absence is also possible, which happens with the sluggish or latent types of pathology.
In other words, it is a very complicated illness, and the list of symptoms is extensive. It can take months of examinations to diagnose the form and stage of schizophrenia accurately. Drug addiction, including salt use, is associated with schizophrenia precisely by the presence of hallucinations and delirium in the clinical picture of addiction and psychopathology. But in most cases, this is just a coincidence.
See Also: Schizophrenia and Drugs
If a person who uses synthetic drugs exhibits these signs, the doctor is unlikely to be acutely confronted with the question of schizophrenic disorder. However, the very appearance of this symptom should alert the addict and his relatives, regardless of whether it is related to schizophrenia. The addict may have a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Then drugs can lead to pathology manifestation.
The negative symptomatology of schizophrenia, which includes the psyche’s passivity, is similar to the signs of withdrawal in a salt addict. In such cases, apathy, depression, withdrawal, etc., are observed. The problem is that even in the absence of addiction, such symptoms are ignored by many. It is during this period that schizophrenia or another disorder may progress.
Relatives of the patient or addict should be concerned about this issue if their loved one used to be cheerful, active, and upbeat but suddenly became quiet, inert, and irritable. Even without linking it to drug addiction or schizophrenia, such a behavior change indicates the presence of psychological problems in a person.
The question of the relationship between drugs and schizophrenia has long been studied. Synthetic substances have only recently begun to be used on such a scale. Still, routine data related to heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and other known psychoactive substances show a link between drug addiction and mental illness.
In the 50s and 60s, 2-4% of drug-addicted schizophrenics were identified, and that number rose to 25-30% in the 70s. These figures will likely increase as drugs proliferate and new types of drugs emerge. However, the exact mechanism of the effect of psychoactive substances and schizophrenia on the brain has not been studied, so there are many questions for scientists and medical professionals to answer in the future.
Schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapy therapy sessions. If the exacerbation occurs against the background of drug use, then the patient will also have to be brought to a sober state. At the same time, body detoxification takes a long time. Detoxification lasts from several days to two weeks. After that, the work with the main diagnosis already begins.
During the remission period, it will require double rehabilitation. First, the patient must be taught to live with the psychopathology. He will have to engage in prevention to prevent the next exacerbation. The patient’s relatives will also be consulted and will have to build proper communication with the person with schizophrenia.
Secondly, the person has to understand that they have to go on living without drugs. They are harmful in and of themselves, but with schizophrenia, they can provoke another attack, which will be even more severe than the previous one. Rehabilitating an addict is no less difficult. Addiction, like schizophrenia, is not completely curable. A person will have to live with a mental diagnosis and addiction. To have a full life, you must constantly work on yourself.