2012-05-19 / Front Page

Officials: rapid increase in ‘21st century drugs’

A new drug epidemic has reared its ugly head in Potter County, posing stiff challenges to treatment specialists, the law enforcement community and others.

Commissioner Paul Heimel reported at this week’s meeting of the Potter County Board of Commissioners that the county’s Drug and Alcohol (D&A) Services Agency and local police have confifirmed a rapid increase in the abuse of so-called “21st Century Street Drugs.”

He’ll join D&A Services director Colleen Wilber and assistant Crystal Thomas in attending an internet-based seminar to learn more.

Heimel explained that synthetic drugs marketed as substitutes for marijuana or other illicit substances are not only readily available, but are also legal in some states. Sold under names such as bath salts, salvia and herbal incense, the substances have been linked to serious psychological, physical and behavioral health prob- lems.

Potter County District Attorney Andy Watson has verifified that the county’s Drug Enforcement Task Force considers the use of ‘21st Century Street Drugs” an epidemic, meaning that it is spreading rapidly in a defifined geographical area.

Local offificials believe that public education focused on the dangers of the street drugs is the best weapon toward curbing their use.

The free seminar, sponsored by the National Association for Addiction Professionals, is scheduled for 3 pm on Wednesday, May 30, and anyone can register. It’s geared toward treatment specialists, educators, law enforcement, counselors and others who interact with individuals who have substance abuse problems.

More information on the seminar is available from Commissioner Heimel at pheimel@pottercountypa.net ot 814-274-8290, ext. 203.

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