A new national report reveals that “bath salts,” a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, were linked to an estimated 22,904 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 hospital 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 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 about two-thirds (67 percent) of emergency department visits involving bath salts also involved the use of another drug. Only 33 percent of the bath salts-related visits to emergency departments involved just the use of bath salts; 15 percent of the visits involved combined use with marijuana or synthetic forms of marijuana, and 52 percent involved the use of other drugs.
In 2011 there were nearly 2.5 million emergency department visits involving drug misuse or abuse.