American Association of Poison Control Centers Joins Office of National Drug Control Policy Working Group in Addressing Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

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Poison centers received more than 13,000 calls related to bath salts and synthetic marijuana in 2011.

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People high on these drugs have done some bizarre things to themselves and hurt others around them. It’s important that parents and young people understand just how dangerous these synthetic drugs are.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers today joined a working group convened by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to address the dangers of synthetic drugs, according to Debbie Carr, AAPCC executive director.

At the meeting, Carr and Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, provided information about the the epidemic of synthetic drugs from the poison center perspective, as well as data concerning the number of calls to poison centers about bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

“These substances are among the worst poison centers have ever seen,” Ryan said. “The psychosis seen in some users is truly remarkable, in a very scary way. People high on these drugs have done some bizarre things to themselves and hurt others around them. It’s important that parents and young people understand just how dangerous these synthetic drugs are.”

The medical experts at the America’s 57 poison centers first raised the alarm about synthetic marijuana in 2009 and bath salts in 2010 after they started receiving calls about people having serious, life-threatening reactions to the substances. In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to 3,200 calls related to synthetic drugs. In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. Sixty percent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger.

“The AAPCC is pleased to support the Office of National Drug Control Policy as it works to coordinate efforts to address the growing epidemic of synthetic drug abuse across the nation and ensure that these life-threatening drugs are off our streets,” Carr said. “Spice, bath salts and the other synthetic drugs now in use are causing irreversible harm and death in this country. America’s poison centers are ready to assist ONDCP in any way we can to stop the use of these dangerous products.”

For more information, the media may contact Loreeta Canton, communications manager, American Association of Poison Control Centers, at 703.894.1863 or canton(at)aapcc(dot)org or Brett Schuster, communications assistant, at 703.894.1859 or schuster(at)aapcc(dot)org.

The AAPCC supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, the AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. The AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as EPA, HRSA and the CDC, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit http://www.aapcc.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or read our blog at aapcc.wordpress.com.

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Loreeta Canton
AAPCC
703-894-1863
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