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Bath salts: Complaints and calls on the rise

Ellen Abbott

The misuse of the designer drug called bath salts continues to be in the news as the number of complaints about the drug is on the rise.

The death of a Munnsville woman is the latest central New York case involving the suspected use of the man-made drugs.

In all of 2011, there were 118 calls to the Upstate Poison Control Center about bath salts. This year there have been 141 so far.

Center Toxicologist Alexander Garrard says it amounts to a public health crisis. Part of the problem is that there's no way to know how these chemical concoctions will affect a person.

"It's playing chemical Russian roulette.  It's just a matter of time before you have a bad experience, because of a bad batch or using too much, or you mix it with other substances," said Garrard.

Garrard says the scary thing is that the violent behavior from bath salt users is very new.  And there's really no treatment for what is basically a drug-induced psychosis.

"There's really no antidote when it comes to this  kind of  drug. So really what it is, is good, basic supportive care. So giving them sedation, because these patients are so agitated that they need to be sedated to protect themselves and the health care professionals around them, because they can be violent. These are the patients that can flip hospital beds," said Garrard.

Garrard also says it's unclear what the long term effects are of using bath salts.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.