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From bath salts to opioids, drugs continue their toll

Why? That’s what we found ourselves asking this week after reading an alarming report about an uptick in arrests related to the use of bath salts in the Jersey Shore area.

No, we’re not talking about the crystalline substance that is dissolved in bath water to soften or perfume the water.

We’re talking about a kind of synthetic drug with mood-altering and stimulant properties, typically in the form of crystals and containing MDPV or mephedrone.

Taken in high doses, this psychoactive designer drug has been known to lead to serious behavioral and psychiatric effects, including seizures, hallucinations and violent behavior.

We first heard of the latter form of bath salts about a decade ago, when they could be found being sold legally over the counter at convenience and other stores — including here in Lycoming County.

At the time, we also were seeing reports of people high on these drugs acting out in very bizarre ways, not just here but in other places across the nation.

Remember the Florida case of a homeless man who was shot and killed by Miami police in 2012 while he was gnawing on the face of another homeless man?

That may be among the most extreme cases linked to the use of bath salts and it should send chills up the spine of anyone contemplating toying around with this illicit substance.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law a ban on mephedrone, methylone and MDVP — all used in the manufacture of bath salts — by placing them on the Schedule I controlled substances list.

From bath salts to opioids, people continue to turn to illicit drugs, and the problem may be worse than ever, according to local officials.

Last year, 39 people succumbed to fatal overdoses in Lycoming County. Already this year, the number is in the mid-20s, according to Charles E. Kiessling Jr., county coroner.

“We are busy, about a month ahead of numbers from last year,” he recently told the Sun-Gazette.

Kiessling pointed to the potent mix of fentanyl and heroin for many of the deaths.

There is no way to get around the fact that these drugs are deadly and highly addictive.

District Judge William Solomon, who spent years as a police officer in Old Lycoming Township, likened them to “the devil that gets ahold of people.”

Again, we must ask, why?

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