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National Report: ‘Bath Salts’ Drugs Involved in Nearly 23,000 ED Visits in 1 Year

Adverse effects include heart problems, hypertension, psychosis, and death (September 17)

A new national report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that “bath salts,” a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, were linked to an estimated 22,904 visits to hospital emergency departments (EDs) in 2011.

“Although bath salts drugs are sometimes claimed to be ‘legal highs’ or are promoted with labels to mask their real purpose, they can be extremely dangerous when used,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, SAMHSA’s chief medical officer. “Bath salts drugs can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, addiction, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and, in some cases, death — especially when combined with the use of other drugs.”

The SAMHSA report shows that 67% of ED visits involving bath salts also involved the use of another drug. Only 33% of the bath salts-related visits to EDs involved the use of bath salts alone; 15% of the visits involved combined use with marijuana or synthetic forms of marijuana; and 52% involved the use of other drugs.

The new report is based on findings from a 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) study. DAWN is a public-health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital ED visits and drug-related deaths to track the effect of drug use, misuse, and abuse in the U.S.

Source: SAMHSA; September 17, 2013.

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