Banner's poison center sees spike in synthetic stimulants known as 'bath salts'

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PHOENIX -- A poison control center is warning that the use of synthetic stimulants, known as "bath salts," is on the rise in Maricopa County and the growing trend can be deadly.

Bath salts, which are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, often contain stimulants such as mephedrone and MDPV.

Users are reportedly ingesting the drug in order to get a high similar to that of cocaine.

This year, 35 cases have been reported to the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center, compared to just one call in 2010.

Most of the Valley exposures have been individuals between the ages of 21 and 25 and the majority of the cases were males.

Although no deaths have been reported in Maricopa County, a handful of deaths in the United States have been linked to the use of these drugs.

Valley doctors are concerned due to the lack of federal oversight of bath salts, which can easily lead to a deadly dose when snorted, smoked or injected for purposes of getting high, according to Banner's poison center.

"It is important for people to know that these drugs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration," said Dr. Daniel Brooks, co-medical director of the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center. "There is no way of knowing whether or not you are getting the same dose or type of drug each time. You’re taking a big chance with your life every time you use these salts to get high."

Hospital emergency departments across the Valley have reported patients with increased heart rates and blood pressure, agitation, chest pain, hallucinations, and paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks. Most cases were treated and released from emergency departments, however some of the Arizona cases resulted in hospitalizations for more severe symptoms.