Report shows that “Bath Salts” drugs were involved in nearly 23,000 emergency department visits in one year

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A new national report reveals that “bath salts,” a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, were linked to an estimated 22,904 visits to hospital emergency departments in 2011. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the first national study to track bath salts drugs to hospital emergency department visits since these drugs emerged a few years ago.

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

The SAMHSA report shows that about two-thirds (67 percent) of emergency department visits involving bath salts also involved the use of another drug. Only 33 percent of the bath salts-related visits to emergency departments involved just the use of bath salts; 15 percent of the visits involved combined use with marijuana or synthetic forms of marijuana, and 52 percent involved the use of other drugs.

In 2011 there were nearly 2.5 million emergency department visits involving drug misuse or abuse.

SAMHSA-supported programs help prevent and treat the use of all dangerous substances – traditional and non-traditional – in communities across the nation. The programs work with the health care providers, law enforcement officials, schools, parent groups and other concerned community members to help raise awareness of all forms of substance use disorders and develop effective approaches for preventing and treating them.

The report, entitled “Bath Salts” Were Involved in over 20,000 Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits in 2011, is based on findings from a 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse, and abuse in the United States. The complete survey findings will be available starting at 9 am September 17, 2013 on the SAMHSA website at:

To learn more about the nonmedical use of drugs, including ways to prevent misuse, visit

For more information about SAMHSA, visit:

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 09/15/2017