Among the new synthetic psychoactive drugs, “bath salts” are becoming one of the more commonly used ones in the United States, according to a recent recent study published in the American Journal on Addictions.

Use of bath salts has been linked to a number of adverse cardiac, psychiatric, neurological, gastrointestinal, and pulmonary events. In 2011, over 20,000 emergency room visits were due to the use of bath salts. Researchers from the NYU Langone Medical Center, conducted one of the first studies to evaluate self-reported use of bath salts on a national scale. Data from Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey from 2012–2013 were assessed, which included a total of 8,604 students.

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The study showed that 1.1% of high school seniors reported use of bath salts in the past 12 months. One-third of students who used bath salts reported using only once or twice but frequent use was also commonly seen with 18% of users reporting ≥40 times in the past 12 months. A significantly increased risk was seen among high school seniors who lived with less than two parents, who earned >$50 per week from non-job sources, or those who went out 4–7 nights per week for fun. In addition, >90% of students who used bath salts reported lifetime use of alcohol or marijuana. Use of powder cocaine, LSD, crack, and heroin was at least 10 times more common among bath salt users.

Study findings highlight the importance in continuing to monitor new drugs like bath salts to better prevent and detect potential drug epidemics, researchers concluded.

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