Friday, August 10, 2012

Bath salts event Saturday

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how much we learn, there’s always so much more to know.
Take drugs... Or rather, take the subject of drugs. I thought I knew a lot about drugs. Over the years, I’ve done ride-alongs on police drug raids and spent a weekend with the staff in a hospital ER. I’ve talked to undercover narcs, emergency room physicians, drug dealers and marijuana growers.
Like most people who went to school in the 1970s, I knew a lot of people who used a variety of recreational drugs.
But this bath salts epidemic has been a major learning experience for me.
As an untested and ever-changing product of shadowy labs, we only know that this “designer drug” is strong and its effects are unpredictable.
As both a stimulant and a hallucinogen, users can do irrational things, harming themselves or others. It’s long-term effects are completely unknown.
As our excellent coverage by reporters Caitlin Traynor and Jolene Cleaver has shown, this drug has been straining local police and medical workers and will also strain taxpayers, who will be stuck with the check.
I’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks, but I want to learn more.
I will be at our Community Media Lab presentation at noon on Saturday. Please come if you can, even if you didn’t register.
Lee Livermore of the Upstate New York Poison Control Center will talk about the latest on bath salts and the other new synthetic drugs, and how to recognize their effects and their packaging.
His organization has been at the forefront in educating medical workers and police; he has a lot to offer all concerned residents, especially parents.
If you can’t come, we’ll be streaming the one-hour over the Internet, so you can watch it live or watch it later.
There are other other opportunities to learn more on this important subject. I expect each event to have a bit different focus, and of course, this newspaper has made plans to cover them all. They are:

Verona, Aug. 13
There will be a forum on bath salts and methamphetamine at 6 p.m. at the Verona Fire Hall, 5555 Volunteer Ave.
A panel of experts will include officials from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Frank Coots of the New York State Police, Rick Johnson of the Sylvan Beach Fire Department, and Bill Vineall of Vineall Ambulance.
Councilman Fred Scherz Jr. is organizing the event.
For more information call Scherz at 363-3509 or email fritz@fritzscherz.com.

Chittenango, Aug. 13
Sullivan Free Library will host an information session on bath salts and synthetic marijuana at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 101 Falls Blvd.
Gretchen Slater of BRiDGES, Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, will present a program on synthetic drugs, how they are used, what the effects are and how to deal with a person suspected of using them.
For information call the library at 687-6331.

Oneida, Aug. 21
The Drug Free Task Force of Madison County’s Promise will host a community-wide forum on the synthetic drug bath salts at 6 p.m. at the Oneida High School Auditorium.
Panelists include Dr. Janet McMahon, an emergency department physician at Oneida Healthcare; Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley; James Yonai, director of Madison County Mental Health Department; Madison County District Attorney William Gabor; Dr. Alexander Garrard, a clinical toxicologist for Upstate Poison Control; and Susan Jenkins, executive director of BRiDGES.
Following the panel discussion, the program will be opened to the public for questions.
The program is expected to last at 90 minutes; however, no time limit has been set.
The event is free and open to the public. There is no need to pre-register.
For more information, call 315-697-3947.

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