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Police: Use of 'Bath Salts' on the rise

By GARY LIBERATORE

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - New Hartford Police say two calls they responded to over the past three days show a disturbing trend.

On Friday, a 32 year old man passed out inside the Old Navy store in New Hartford, and on Sunday, a 22 year old man called police from the Pinecrest Motel on Seneca Turnpike saying he thought someone was videotaping him while he was sleeping.

Officer Daniel Herman with New Hartford Police says that in both instances, each man had ingested bath salts. One passed out, the other suffered extreme paranoia.

"Its newness is what's so startling," Officer Herman said. "It is so new, yet the prevalence is so great, just seems to have taken off in an explosive way."

Herman says these so-called designer drugs referred to as bath salts are dangerous, not only to those who use them, but to the police officers who are confronted by those who use them. He says one man, after recently using bath salts, became so paranoid that someone was after him, he armed himself with a knife.

Herman says people can smoke, snort, ingest or inject themselves to get high.

He says one person the department came into contact with actually mixed the bath salt with Gatorade, then injected himself with the fluid using a needle.

Those who run the Insight House Chemical Dependency Services in the City of Utica say they have seen an increase in the number of people coming in who have tried getting high using bath salts.

Paul Vitagliano, Education Director at the Insight House says many people only try doing so once.

"I've met very few people who will continue," Vitagliano said. "It usually seems to be a one time thing because it's such a weird episode."

Vitagliano says the drugs have commonly been packaged in stores as bath salts for about four or five years.

"The term 'bath salt' is simply a way for them to package this chemical legally," Vitagliano said. "It's not anything you would actually put in your bath. It has no healing power. It's nothing that we would think of Epsom Salts, or anything positive. It's just a misnomer. There is a chemical in these 'bath salts' that is very similar to methcathinone, or cocaine or methamphetamine."

The effects vary, depending on the person and on the content of the drug, because the makeup of each is different.

Side effects range from paranoia, to hallucinations, chest pain, and in some cases the drugs are believed to have led to suicides.

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