Visits to the ER for “Bath Salts”

Bath salts involved in many visits to the emergency department

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The street drugs called “bath salts,” not to be confused with the relaxing bathtub product, may be more dangerous than people realize. These designer drugs have been sending folks to the ER.

A recent report looked into the number of emergency department visits in the US that involved the use of bath salts.

The report found that of 2.5 million visits to the ER in 2011, nearly 23,000 involved the use of this stimulant-type drug.

"Stay away from bath salts."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has released a report on the street drugs known as “bath salts.”

“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,” SAMHSA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, said in a press statement.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) collected data on emergency department visits by patients using this stimulant-type drug.

Overall, the researchers reported that drug misuse or abuse was involved with nearly 2.5 million visits to the ER in 2011.

Similar to an amphetamine-type stimulant, variations of bath salts contain the chemical cathinone. In the US, bath salts were involved in 22,904 ER visits in 2011.

Among the bath salts-related ER visits, 33 percent involved bath salts only, 15 percent also involved marijuana or synthetic marijuana and 52 percent involved some other combination of drugs.

“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,” Dr. McCance-Katz said.

This study was published in September on the SAMHSA website. 

Review Date: 
September 18, 2013
Last Updated:
September 18, 2013