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Larissa Doucette

A group of drugs known as “bath salts,” containing synthetic cathinones, an amphetamine-like stimulant, were linked to an estimated 22,904 visits to hospital emergency departments in 2011. The data is from a new report (PDF) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the first national study that tracks bath salt drugs linked to hospital emergency department visits since the drugs emerged several years ago. The report also showed that 67% of these visits involved the use of another drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, use of bath salts has been associated with racing heart, high blood pressure, and chest pains, as well as paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. Some patients have experienced more severe problems, including kidney failure. Combinations of multiple synthetics have been fatal in some cases. Both state and federal agencies have issued emergency rules and legislation in order to make sales of these drugs illegal.