- Posted by Austin Swim
- On August 22, 2015
- 0 Comments
The term “bath salts” is still relatively new and refers to an emerging family of stimulant drugs. These drugs contain one or more synthetic chemicals related to the amphetamine-like stimulant cathinone, which is found naturally in the khat plant. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts are known to produce feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and increased sex drive. Some users can also exhibit side effects such as paranoia, agitation, hallucinatory delirium, and psychotic and violent behavior.
A recent study published in The American Journal of Addiction by researcher and assistant professor Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH of New York University has revealed some startling statistics about bath salt use among high schoolers. The study was one of the first nationally representative studies in the US to examine self-reported use of bath salts.
Dr. Palamar’s study drew data from the 2012 and 2013 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, an ongoing nationwide annual study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American high school students. This survey is conducted in approximately 130 public and private schools throughout 48 states in the US, and it assesses 15,000 high school seniors annually. The data used by Dr. Palamar comes from a total of 8,604 students who reported their sociodemographic data, alcohol and drug use.
Dr. Palamar’s analysis of the data reveals that 1.1% of high school seniors reported using bath salts in the last 12 months. Moreover, a third of students who used bath salts reported using them only once or twice, which suggests that experimentation is most common among users. Frequent use, however, was also common among users, as 18% of users reported using 40 or more times in the last year.
The bath salts study carried out by Palamar does reveal some factors that may put high schoolers at increased risk for bath salt use. He remarked that students who lived with fewer than two parents, who went out four to seven nights per week for fun, or who earned over $50 per week from sources other than a job, were at significantly increased risk for use. In addition, more than 90% of bath salts users reported lifetime use of alcohol or marijuana. Use of powder cocaine, crack, LSD, and heroin was at least ten times more prevalent among bath salts users.
Dr. Palamar had this to say about bath salts use in the US: “While these results suggest bath salt use is not particularly prevalent among teens in the US, 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.”