Drug prevention and awareness, particularly in reference to the abused substance known as "bath salts", were discussed at the Feb. 28 Paden City Neighborhood Watch meeting.
Brandi Murray, coordinator of the Wetzel County Substance Abuse Prevention Program, was in attendance to outline the dangers of the substance, which legislation is still attempting to outlaw.
She began by clarifying that the bath salts people abuse are not the same as the bath salts used for bathing and that the name is just a commercial way for drug dealers to market the substance. According to her, bath salts remain legal because of their labeling and four "deceiving" words printed on the packages: not for human consumption. She said another reason they are still legal is because the formula is constantly being tweaked by manufacturers.
She cited an alarming rate of increase in bath salt-related phone calls to the West Virginia Poison Control Center since 2011. She also explained the dangers posed to those who take the drug as well as those in close proximity to them. Side effects of the drug, which she described as "more potent than cocaine," include a high that may last for days, hallucinations, random violent outbursts, and, in some cases, cannibalism.
"Because this is a fairly new drug, we don't know all of the long term effects," she said.
"Education is the key to any problem," Murray said in regard to handling drug trends. She can be reached at 304-455-2468 to answer any questions.
According to Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee, bath salts are "in our backyard." He cited an operation in Wick recently busted for manufacturing the substance.
"Not only is it already here," he said. "We've already had people making it here."
When it comes to future plans for the neighborhood watch, Watch Organizer Barbara Hopkins expressed that she would like to hold events that get the entire community involved. Another priority is to educate kids against drug and alcohol abuse. She also expressed gratitude to the Paden City Council for purchasing neighborhood watch signs, which will soon be placed at the edges of town.
Hopkins stated that the raffle for the quilt "Broken Dishes" is going well, and a drawing will be held sometime in March.
An "arm length" of tickets can still be purchased for $5.
Those interested in purchasing tickets can contact her at 304-337-8742.