Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Another local ban on bath salts is up for debate next week in Oswego County. We’ve seen similar efforts across the state this summer and Federal investigators raided several headshops in July, but has the crackdown made any difference?
Two months ago, Dr. Michael Jorolemon said Crouse Hospital's emergency room had a steady stream of patients using bath salts.
"We were seeing at times, two or three patients at a time, with varying degrees of illness. Now, it has been a day or so and we haven't noticed anybody, and the volumes throughout the past few weeks have definitely started to come down,” said Crouse ER Physician Dr. Michael Jorolemon.
Major efforts to crackdown on bath salts began in July, when the state's attorney general sued more than a dozen head shop owners, accused of selling mislabeled synthetic drugs. Then, law enforcement raided stores across the country. Syracuse common councilors recently created a local ban. While there's no data analyzing results of the crackdown, there appears to be a shift in habits.
So far this year, the Upstate New York Poison Center has filed 355 bath salts reports; 87 came in June. Then, their biggest spike was in July with 112 reports. By August, there was a drop in cases to 32. So far for September, there has been just one call.
"It may be that there is actually a decrease of usage in the community, which would be great news. But, it also may just be that the healthcare providers that would normally call us are now so comfortable managing these cases, that they don't think it is necessary to,” said Upstate NY Poison Control Center’s Michele Caliva.
Michele Caliva has given 77 lectures on bath salts this year and says many other communities with bans on synthetic drugs have seen an increase in abuse. Doctor Jorolemon has higher hopes.
“I'm very optimistic that hopefully we are on the right track, and that people start to realize how dangerous these substances are,” Dr. Jorolemon said.
Workers with the Upstate Poison Center are hoping to create a more reliable system to track bath salts cases. Next week they’ll reach out to local emergency departments to request regular reports.