Learning to Deal With the Growing Bath Salts Problem
For the staff at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, a training on the effects of bath salts couldn't have come at a better time.
Doctors here say they are dealing with five cases a day of people on the legal synthetic drug.
So why are bath salts and glass cleaners, a similar drug, so popular right now?
Despite being banned by the state, experts say you can still buy forms the drugs over the counter for cheap.
"People found, so it's inexpensive, so they can go and get a same high similar to what they might see from cocaine, or maybe ecstasy, just buy it in a regular store," said Deborah Anguish, a Poison Control Specialist.
Doctor's say the typical patient on bath salts is delusional and violent, making treating the patient dangerous.
"We see a lot of violence taking care of these patients, and our gaol in the emergency department is to immediately identify these people who are intoxicated with this substance and then stabilize them," Dr. Maja Lundeorg-Gray, who works in the emergency room at Samaritan Medical Center.
But because of the violence, stabilizing patients can sometimes take more than an hour, requiring extra security.
"We haven't dealt with this type of violence that we're seeing, an agitated behavior that we're seeing. So, it's been a challenge for us," Dr. Lundeorg-Gray said.
It's a growing challenge being faced by hospitals all across the state.
"We cover New York state, most of New York state. And, that we're getting calls from even small areas, rural areas, city areas. So I don't like an exact statistic, but prevalent all over New York State," Anguish said.
But there may be help on the way. Senator Joe Griffo is pushing for the state to strengthen the ban on bath salts and close what he calls 'loopholes' in the law.
Senator Griffo hopes to have the proposal passed this year, but that may have to wait because legislators are out of session until the fall.