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, 18 (2), 180-4

Prevalence of Use, Epidemiology and Toxicity of 'Herbal Party Pills' Among Those Presenting to the Emergency Department

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Prevalence of Use, Epidemiology and Toxicity of 'Herbal Party Pills' Among Those Presenting to the Emergency Department

Tonia C Nicholson. Emerg Med Australas.

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to establish the prevalence of use, epidemiology and toxicity of 'herbal party pills' in ED presenters. This was an analytical cross-sectional survey of patients and relatives presenting to a large tertiary ED. Consenting participants completed a specifically designed questionnaire. A total of 1043 people completed the questionnaire (participation rate of 97.2%). One hundred and twenty-five (11.9%) had taken herbal party pills and subgroup analysis showed that use was most prevalent in those aged 14-25 years (30%). The majority had taken pills between two and five times (56%). Eighty-three (66.4%) had been drinking alcohol when they first took party pills. Only 80 (64%) had read the product directions, and 48 (38.4%) had, at some stage, taken more pills than recommended. One hundred and six (84.8%) had felt effects from party pills, but only 63 (59% of those feeling effects or 50.4% of total) described these as 'good'. Six (5.7% of those with effects or 4.8% of total) had sought medical attention for effects. Seventy-four (59.2%) would take herbal party pills again. In conclusion, the use of herbal party pills is common in presenters to the ED, particularly in those aged 14-25 years. These people are at risk for toxicity from the pills because there is a tendency for them not to read the instructions before ingestion, to take more pills than recommended and to coingest alcohol. Emergency physicians need to be aware of the use and potential adverse effects of herbal party pills to enable them to recognize signs of toxicity in ED presenters and thus provide appropriate supportive care.

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