Sheriff's office uses education as tool to fight synthetic drug issuesSubmitted: 11/03/2013

Adam Fox
10 p.m. Anchor/Reporter

ANTIGO - More than 50 people met Saturday morning for a Langlade County Sheriff's Office drug presentation in Antigo.

The focus was on synthetic drugs, specifically bath salts, and their impact in the community.

Langlade County Sheriff's Office Drug Investigator Dan Bauknecht emphasized the physical impact of using bath salts.

He says the mood swing caused by synthetic drug can shift from friendly to violent in an instant.

It's something that puts users, family members and police in danger.

Police say that's because the bath salts essentially overload your nervous system. Mood swings can last for hours.

Bauknecht sees that more often when they arrest users.

"The real danger to these synthetic drugs is obviously they are not regulated because they're illegal street drugs," Bauknecht said. "The chemical compound is often times very different from bag to bag, even though its promoted to be the same brand."

Bauknecht started working at the Langlade County Jail in 1999. He says bath salts first started popping up in the area in 2009.

"I think it really got entrenched in our community and got entrenched in the outlying communities around us." Bauknecht said. "Then when it did become banned and people were too far gone on it so to speak to just stop because it was an illegal substance, so it became an underground substance."

The Sheriff's office hopes education sessions like the one they held in Antigo Saturday can help.

The goal was to let people know what is out on their streets. Bauknecht says the battle is more than just arresting users.

"This is more than just cops and robbers with bath salts because of the challenges with it and because of the catastrophic damage that it causes the person and our community, which is a trickle down," Bauknecht said.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, poison centers recorded 2,677 calls for exposure to bath salts.

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