BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) - President Obama recently passed new legislation permanently banning the sale of bath salts. But even with them off the shelves, the DEA in Buffalo says synthetic drugs are in their heyday.
Four years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency first saw bath salts in western New York. In the past two years, officials say they've seen a significant increase in their use.
The people who create these drugs are smart and savvy and know chemistry. But they also seem to have little regard on how these drugs will affect users, and the results can be deadly.
News 4 spoke to Jason Lang when the ban for bath salts went into effect. He and his sister, Brandi Smith, closed down their shop, "Laughing Buddha," after learning more about the synthetic drugs known as bath salts.
Brandi said, "Neither him or I wanted to have any part in selling any kind of a product or being associated with anything that could harm people."
After hearing that, it's hard to believe that shortly after closing their shop, Jason became addicted to bath salts.
"I've watched my brother just go from having everything to having nothing," Brandi said.
Jason's mother, Nicolette Lang, said, "Paranoia super bad. And he comes up with a lot of stories you don't know what's true what's not true."
Nicolette says Jason will call 911 over and over, believing someone is after him.
"He'll rent two or three a night, go from hotel to hotel because he thinks there are people following him and there's nobody there," Nicolette.
Dale Kasperzyk of the DEA says bath salts commonly cause paranoia and anxiety.
"They are snorted, they are smoked and they will give you a similar effect as the amphetamines would give," he said.
And they're also highly addictive. Kasperzyk says because the drugs makers constantly alter bath salts to avoid the law, it's hard to predict their side effects. And if the chemicals used to make the drugs aren't bad enough, he says manufacturers are using chemicals like carpet cleaner to cut the product and increase volume.
Nicolette went to the store where Jason bought the bath salts and said, "I just begged him not to sell drugs to my kid."
She says the store owner called police and she's now facing trespassing charges, which she says she'll fight. And she says she'll also fight to get back the son she once knew.
"You're sitting there, a grown man crying, he wants to die, holding a Bible, he wants to die... It just feels so hopeless. But then you go do some more because then you feel better just because it's addicting. I don't know if he'll ever go back to being a 100 percent normal," Nicolette said.
Kasperzyk says 12- to 25-years-olds are most likely to use the synthetic drugs. If you suspect a store or person is selling bath salts, you're asked to call the DEA at 846-6000.
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