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Community workgroup discusses increasing use of bath salt drug products

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At a community work group meeting to discuss the use of synthetic drugs such as bath salts, the executive director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County said the community is facing a “crisis” in the rising amount of such substances being consumed.

“This is as worse as we’ve ever seen,” said William W. Bowman, who led the work group’s discussion Tuesday.

The work group, with 25 participants from a variety of community health and safety groups, discussed concerns about the products along with their adverse effects. Two representatives from groups on Fort Drum also were in attendance, along with a youth pastor from an area church.

Bath salts, products classified as both synthetic cathinones and synthetic amphetamines, have been compared to cocaine and methamphetamine.

The products are sold online and in a couple of local stores under a variety of brand names, along with misleading labels such as glass cleaner, butterfly attractant and plant food in order to avoid federal regulators. The products are routinely labeled as being not for human consumption.

The group also heard from a couple whose 45-year-old son has used bath salt products for the past six months.

The parents, who asked not to be identified, said their son, who lives at home after a back injury left him unable to work, was a different person for the two or three days at a time he was under the influence of the bath-salt-type products. They said their son purchased the products at Tebb’s Headshop, 144 Eastern Blvd., and at the High Life, 22220 Route 11.

While under the products’ influence, their son reportedly began seeing people in the house’s walls, before thrashing through the upstairs of the home thinking he was being chased. He finally ran out of the house, thinking the people in the walls were descending from the roof, the parents said.

“He was flickering in and out,” the mother said. She later said her son was normally very smart, and his father said he was very proficient in repairing computers.

The owner of Tebb’s Headshop told the Times last week that his store did not sell bath salt products, but a flier in the store indicated it did sell glass cleaner.

City resident Francine R. Petersen said she had seen dramatic changes in the community owing to the use of the products.

“We’re at a point where we have to draw a line,” Ms. Petersen said. “The community has to do something, and the first step is realizing we have a problem.”

The group also discussed the placement of public service announcements on television and radio, and upcoming training events later this month to be run by poison control specialists for law enforcement officials.

The work group’s next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 24, in the first-floor conference room of the Marcy Building, 167 Polk St. The meeting is open to the public.

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