Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bath Salts Abuse Linked to Nearly 23,000 ED Visits

A new federal report reveals that “bath salts,” a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, were linked to nearly 23,000 visits to hospital emergency departments in 2011. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the first national study to track bath salts drugs to emergency department visits since these drugs emerged a few years ago.

"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 Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., 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 about 67 percent of emergency department visits involving bath salts also involved use of another drug. Only 33 percent of the bath salts-related emergency department visits involved just the use of bath salts; 15 percent involved combined use with marijuana or synthetic forms of marijuana, and 52 percent involved use of other drugs.

For more information about the spreading epidemic of bath salts use, see the Psychiatric News articles "Psychiatrist Goes to Battle Against Bath-Salts Abuse" and "Spread of Synthetic Drugs Challenges Clinicians, Law Enforcement."

(Image: Gita Kulinitch Studio /


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