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Mental Health Center

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'Bath Salts' Have Effects Similar to Meth, Ecstasy

Meth-Like Craving, Ecstasy-Like Brain Damage Found in Rat Studies of Bath Salts

Bath Salts, Plant Food, Decorative Sand, and Toy Cleaner continued...

Mephedrone has never been approved for human consumption -- hence the initial studies in rats -- nor are these illicit products made under the kind of good manufacturing practices necessary for legal drugs, supplements, and foods.

Mephedrone is a so-called designer drug. It's a man-made derivative of the psychostimulant cathinone, which comes from the plant called khat.

Bath salts and similar substances are a growing problem. As of July 31, U.S. poison control centers had received 4,137 calls about bath salt "exposures." In all of 2010, there were only 303 such calls.

Last May, the Michigan health department reported a surge in emergency-room visits from people who had swallowed, snorted, or injected bath salts. Seventeen of the patients were hospitalized; one was dead on arrival.

Several states already have introduced legislation to ban sale of bath-salt products, but the substances remain available via online sellers.

"I would like to urge parents, teachers, and the public at large to be aware of the potential dangers associated with the use of these drugs and to exercise a judicious level of vigilance that will help us deal with this problem most effectively," Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says in a news release.

Fleckenstein and colleagues report their findings in the online edition of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

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