ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- On a dead-end street in Rockland last week, Maine's rapidly growing bath salts abuse problem nearly turned deadly.
Police were called to a house where a man was said to be high on the drug and waving a gun. He fired a shot into the ceiling, but then police were able to talk Kenneth Corlis into surrendering, and the man was disarmed and taken to jail. But it was not the first time Rockland police have faced bath salts users with weapons. Sgt. Don Finnegan says, "We've dealt with a number of people who are paranoid delusional. They arm themselves with knives, clubs. In one case a sword. "
Bath salts appeared in Rockland in April, and since then police have handled 126 cases involving the drug. Chief Bruce Boucher says his officers are seeing "delusional, hallucinogenic psychotic behavior." Police and Emergency Medical Technicians say they never know what they will face when they have to answer a bath salts call. Users often become combative, increasing then risk for responders and for the staff at the local hospital emergency room and at the jail.
Sgt. Finnegan says heroin and the prescription pills called opiates-which comprise the area's primary drug problem- are depressants, so people high on the drug rarely exhibit any sort of violence. But the bath salts, he says, are stimulants, and that create an entirely different challenge for all those who have to handle the user.
To help more people understand the drug, Chief Boucher is organizing a special meeting for October 24. He says they are inviting other police departments, area EMT's, doctors, nurses and other medical people and even educators to come together and discuss the problem. Says Sgt. Finnegan, "If we're all on the same page, all have the same training and know what we're looking for, (bath salts users) can get that person help but can also stay safe themselves."