‘Bath Salts’ Linked to Nearly 23,000 ER Visits

“Bath salts,” a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, are linked to an estimated 22,904 hospital emergency room visits in a single year. That’s according to the first national study tracking these drugs since their emergence five years ago. The report is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and is based on findings from a 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report.

What are “Bath Salts”?

“Bath salts” are a new group of drugs that contain chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-type stimulant. A white or brown powder, bath salts are typically sold in packaging that makes them look like common household products, like products used to clean jewelry or to feed plants. Most bath salts carry labels saying that they are either a “legal high” or “not for human consumption,” in an effort to get around being controlled as a drug of abuse. They aren’t anything like actual bath salts that require the addition of water to be used in a bath.

Dangerous Side Effects

These bath salt drugs are usually taken by mouth, although they are also inhaled or injected. One study reports growing concern about the availability, toxicity and adverse side effects of this new generation of “designer drugs” marketed as “bath salts.” Serious adverse side effects of bath salts use include heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, addiction, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, even death – especially when consumed with other drugs. The SAMHSA report shows that about two-thirds, 67 percent, of the ER visits in 2011 involved the use of another drug besides bath salts. Only 33 percent of the bath-salts-related ER visits involved bath salts alone. Fifteen percent involved the combined use of marijuana or synthetic forms of marijuana, and 52 percent involved other drugs. These statistics highlight the need for those who use bath salts to seek treatment for their addiction as soon as possible.

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