‘BATH SALTS’: ONE HORROR STORY AFTER ANOTHER FOR POISON CENTERS

April 1, 2012

With proms and graduation parties around the corner, Oregon’s emergency rooms and poison centers are hoping the state will buck a national trend. More and more teens are celebrating their big days with recreational synthetic drugs, products that mimic the effects of dangerous controlled substances like Ecstasy and cocaine. National health statistics show that more than a few families have lost a loved one who used the bath salts or fake marijuana “just that one time.”

The active chemicals are legal in Oregon and a handful of other states. About two-thirds of state legislatures have banned them, but the West Coast has not. Last fall, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a nationwide ban on the most common chemicals found in these products. (The bans will expire in September and October.) In Congress, a bill that passed the House is now stuck in the Senate; consumer safety advocates aren’t even cautiously optimistic that the president will see the bill before the session ends.

The active chemicals are legal in Oregon and a handful of other states. About two-thirds of state legislatures have banned them, but the West Coast has not. Last fall, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a nationwide ban on the most common chemicals found in these products. (The bans will expire in September and October.) In Congress, a bill that passed the House is now stuck in the Senate; consumer safety advocates aren’t even cautiously optimistic that the president will see the bill before the session ends.

The bath salts are powders or crystals — they actually look like bath salts — that users snort, swallow or smoke to get high. And with or without the bans, the products are easy enough to get hold of: Manufacturers package them as bath salts, slap a warning on them that the contents are not meant for human consumption, and sell them through boutiques, convenience stores or websites.

For the most part, users are teens and young adults, but their age hasn’t altered the risk. Users of all ages have shown up at emergency rooms in very bad shape, at times violent or exhibiting symptoms that puzzle the ER staff. It isn’t a matter of treat and release, either. Some of these patients die.

We’ll continue this next week.

Source: USAToday.com, “‘Bath salt’ poisonings rise as legislative ban tied up,” Donna Leinwand Leger, April 12, 2012

 

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