(KCBS) – A government report finds that in just one year, the use of bath salts, a group of drugs containing amphetamine-type stimulants, resulted in thousands of visits to emergency rooms.

It is the first time a national study has tracked hospitalizations resulting from the use of bath salts.

According to the data, released Tuesday by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 23,000 of the 2.5 million ER tips involving all drugs in 2011 were because of the designer drugs known as bath salts.

“Causing stimulant effects, agitation, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, there have been deaths,” Thomas Kearney, director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System, described the dangerous side effects of bath salts.

“One of the problems,” he continued, “not only do they have this stimulant effect but the duration can persist for days.”

“It’s going to be very difficult to regulate, and particularly with the pipeline such as the Internet that’s used to procure these products,” he warned of the challenges facing medical professionals and law enforcement officials.

“Hopefully,” he added, “people can see that there are potentially life-threatening and dire consequences that can happen from the abuse of these agents.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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