Over the past few years, the number of calls to poison control centers involving problems with “bath salts” have decreased dramatically, according to recent information released by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
Bath salts are synthetic cathinones, which are powerful illegal drugs that have been sold over-the-counter under names like “Cloud 9” and “Bliss”. In recent years, health officials have been highlighting the risks associated with bath salts, which can cause hallucinations, delusions, paranoid behavior and other problems.
In an update posted to the AAPCC website, the group indicates that 104 calls involving exposure to bath salts were received by poison control centers throughout the United States over the first two months of this year. If the trend continues this year, an estimated total of 600 exposure reports may be received in 2014. However, this represents a continuing decrease from the number of bath salt poisonings reported in recent years.
The number of calls received by poison control centers involving bath salts peaked in 2011, with more than 6,000 calls received throughout the country. That was a sudden increase from only 234 calls logged in 2010. However, the number has steadily fallen over recent years, with 2,691 exposure reports received in 2012 and 995 in 2013.
In early 2011, health officials began sounding an alarm over the potentially dangerous hallucinogenic side effects of bath salts, raising awareness about the problems. The substances have been banned in many states.
Bath salts were commonly sold at rest stops, convenience stores and on the internet. Although they carried a marketing that they were “not for human consumption” to avoid regulation, the primary purpose was to crush and snort the substance or put it into beverages.
While bath salts were popular among people in their twenties, poison control centers and emergency rooms have seen patients with severe side effects from taking the drug as young as 6 years old and as old as 59.
According to warnings issued by the AAPCC, side of effects of bath salts include not only a quick high, but long lasting and often permanent effects such as paranoia, violent behavior, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, panic attacks, increased blood pressure and heart rate, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. In at least one case, a user planned to surgically remove their own liver with a mechanical pencil while on the drugs. In some cases, they were a danger to others as well, such as an incident where a man on bath salts armed himself and prepared for a siege by monsters.
Poison experts say the side effects elicited by bath salts are “among the worst they have seen” for any drug, including many dangerous illegal drugs like PCP, LSD, Ecstasy, and meth. Long lasting health damage to users may result, including death after only one use.