SOURCE: New York University, news release, July 15, 2015
THURSDAY, July 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Of the 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors who have tried street drugs called "bath salts," nearly one-fifth are regular users, a new study finds.
Bath salts are synthetic amphetamine-like stimulants that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Typically, it's in the form of a crystalline powder that resembles but has nothing to do with bathing products like Epsom salts. The drugs have been linked with numerous health problems and deaths, accounting for more than 20,000 emergency room visits in the United States in 2011, the researchers said.
"While these results suggest bath salt use is not particularly prevalent among teens in the U.S., it is important that we continue to monitor new drugs such as bath salts in order to inform prevention and quickly detect potential drug epidemics," study author Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a university news release.
Researchers analyzed data collected from more than 8,600 high school seniors nationwide who were surveyed in 2012 and 2013. They found that 1 percent of them said they had tried bath salts in the previous 12 months.
One-third of those who had tried bath salts said they used them only once or twice, which suggests that experimentation is the most common type of use. However, 18 percent of bath salts users said they used the drugs 40 or more times in the last year.
High school seniors at highest risk of using bath salts were those who lived without two parents, earned more than $50 a week from sources other than a job, and went out four to seven nights a week for fun, the study found.
Also, more than 90 percent of bath salts users said they had used alcohol or marijuana. And they were at least 10 times more likely to use powder cocaine, LSD, crack and heroin than teens who did not use bath salts.
The study was published recently in the American Journal of Addiction.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about bath salts.