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Concerned mother speaks out about daughter's use of synthetic drugs

By JOLEEN FERRIS

REMSEN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Catherine Lalone is fighting for her 21-year-old daughter's life.

One phone call was to tell her, her daughter had cut herself. Another time, she was in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital.

The root of the problem - synthetic substances young people are snorting, smoking and using as drugs.

Those substances are Hooka cleaner, jewelry cleaner known as 'blizzard' and other substances loosely referred to on the street as 'bath salts'.

Once, while under the influence of such substances, Catherine's daughter thought something was crawling on her face and squeezed it so hard, she was unrecognizable to family.

What frustrates Catherine is that the substances her daughter is using aren't illegal. Yet they are doing just as much damage as illegal drugs.

"They're getting high on this just like they're getting high off the street drugs," says Lalone, "These are stores they're selling them in."

Staff at both the Puff & Stuff store on Genesee Street in downtown Utica and Tebb's Head Shop say they don't sell the items.

Police have been called when Lalone's daughter experienced moments of rage while under the influence. But Lalone says they told her there is nothing they can do because the substances aren't illegal.

Lalone fears that one day when the phone rings, it will be police, telling her that her daughter has died from her addiction.

Local addiction experts say these synthetic substances that fall under the heading, 'bath salts', are slowly gaining traction in central New York.

"It's kind of like ecstasy was 12-13 years ago," Says Paul Vitagliano of the Insight House. "It's picking up slowly and slowly and we know it's going to gain speed."

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