Home | Help Center | Synthetic Drug Use on Dramatic Rise Nationwide

Synthetic Drug Use on Dramatic Rise Nationwide

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Chemicals that imitate the properties of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine can create severe paranoia that may cause users to harm themselves or others.

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 8, 2012 -- The nation's emergency physicians are seeing an alarming increase in the amount of patients being treated in emergency departments for synthetic (or chemically enhanced) drug use. For example, in 2010, there were a little fewer than 2,900 calls to poison control centers regarding synthetic marijuana exposure.  That number nearly doubled in the first 8 months of 2011. 


"As emergency physicians, we witness first-hand how these dangerous synthetic drugs are harming users," said Dr. David Seaberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  "These products contain chemicals that imitate the hallucinogenic or stimulant properties of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine, which can create severe paranoia that may cause users to harm themselves or others."

One of the major concerns involves the use of so-called "bath salts."  Dr. Seaberg said to make no mistake, these are not actually bath salts or any type of bath products.  Their only known purpose is for consumption as a recreational drug.  These drugs are intentionally mislabeled by their manufacturers as "bath salts," "plant food," "air freshener," etc. in order to trick the purchaser into thinking the drugs are mild or innocuous.  In 2010, there were about 300 calls to poison control centers related specifically to bath salts.  In the first 8 months of 2011, that number was already more than 4,700.

Emergency physicians treat patients every day for a variety of different symptoms associated with synthetic drug use including, chest pain, elevated blood pressure, nausea, erratic heartbeat, agitation, paranoia, muscle breakdown and/or hypothermia. 

These bath salts can have very harmful effects on its users.  Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, extreme paranoia and violent episodes.  These synthetic drugs have been popular among teens and young adults, and are sold at retail outlets and over the Internet.  These drugs can also be highly addictive to its users.

The use of synthetic drugs have led to several tragic outcomes.  For example, there was a boy in Louisiana who snorted bath salts, spent the next few days experiencing intermittent psychotic episodes and resulted in him committing suicide.  In another case, there was a teen in Illinois who smoked synthetic marijuana and died when he drove his car into a house.  He crashed into the bedroom of a 2-year-old child, who, fortunately, was playing in the backyard at the time.

"We need lawmakers to take serious notice of what we are seeing in our emergency departments nationwide," said Dr. Seaberg.  "This synthetic drug problem is bad, it's getting worse, it's affecting our youth — killing many of them. We need to continue educating our children as to the severe dangers of these poisonous chemicals."

Several legislative proposals in the U.S. House and Senate would address the imminent and emergency threats posed by three classes of synthetic drugs.  These drugs have no medical benefit, are abused by adolescents and adults on an increasing and sometimes deadly scale.  Also, they are manufactured and distributed without adherence to any safety standards.

To set up an interview with a medical expert on the effects of synthetic drug use, please contact Mike Baldyga, ACEP Public Relations at (202) 728-0610, ext. 3005 or email at mbaldyga@acep.org.

For more information on synthetic drug use, bath salts and the pending federal legislation that would help control them, please visit www.ACEP.org.  For more information on this and other health-related topics, please visit www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. 




SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

  • email Email to a friend
  • print Print version
  • Plain text Plain text
No tags for this article
More from Help Center
Community Based Approaches
Three programs that exemplify a successful community-based approach to children affected by violence and trauma....
Child Advocacy Center
The Child Advocacy Center Model brings together representatives from many disciplines to provide services to child victims of abuse, neglect, and trauma....
Treatments That Work
Video featuring some of the evidence-based treatment strategies for children and their families that researchers and experts consider effective....
Through Our Eyes
How violence and trauma affect children, including the serious and long-lasting consequences for their physical and mental health....
Teen Sleep Habits
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers receive between 8.5 hours and 9.25 hours each night....
Embracing Biculturalism
Latino adolescents in the U.S. who maintain ties to their culture of origin are more likely to develop healthy behaviors than their peers who do not....
Back to School with Asthma and Allergies
AANMA offers tips for parents such as scheduling meetings with the school nurse, teachers, coaches and administrators to develop partners in their child's healthcare at school....
Guide Aids College Professors Dealing with Aggressive Behavior
The classroom is now the scene of disruptive and dangerous behaviors that range from speaking out of turn to the misuse of technology to potentially aggressive and threatening behaviors....
Active Children and Adolescents
Physically active youth have higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, stronger muscles and bones, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. ...
PennDOT Videos on Pedestrian Safety
The videos are for parents of elementary school students, elementary-school students, middle-school students and young or first-time drivers....
Responding to Victims of Cyberbullying
Jayne A. Hitchcock, President of WHOA and WHOA-KTD, and Hale Guyer, licensed private investigator and retired special investigator, answer questions about cyberbullying, research, resources, and more....
Adolescent Transitions Program
Parent-focused segments concentrate on developing family management skills such as making requests, using rewards, monitoring, making rules, providing reasonable consequences for rule violations, problem solving, and active listening. ...
Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach
The overall goals of the A-CRA are to reduce substance use and dependence, increase social stability, improve physical and mental health, and improve life satisfaction. ...
School Shooting Preparedness
It is recommended that training be conducted at a location that is deemed to be most vulnerable by the campus threat and risk assessment program....
Back-to-School Internet Safety Guide for Parents Now Available
According to psychologist and forensic consultant Michael Nuccitelli, not only can iPredators become anyone they choose to be, they can also become anyone their victim may subconsciously desire them to be....