Bath salts and synthetic marijuana were some of the most talked-about topics of 2012, and some people called the abuse an epidemic in our region. 6 months ago, Eyewitness News reporter Rachel Polansky spoke with a Utica man who was battling his addiction. Today, she meets with him again.
Kevin Parker’s story raised the question: Are bath salts a trend of 2012? And what’s the outlook for 2013? Eyewitness News met Kevin back in June, and he was just 1-month clean of synthetic drugs. But today, he hit day 258.
“In the very beginning, the first couple of weeks, I swear to god, I didn’t know if I was gonna live or not because it was so bad. Anybody who does drugs knows that there’s times you feel today’s the day I’m gonna go back and do it,” says Kevin Parker, former synthetic drug user.
But Kevin hasn’t gone back. After his 5th visit to the Emergency Room 8 months ago, he gave up the drugs… but his road to recovery has not been an easy one.
“I had a lot of chemical side effects, I couldn’t keep down solid food. I mean I still have them, balling up my hands and feet, things I’ve never done before,” says Kevin.
Kevin says he occasionally gets the urge, but then he remembers those dark days
“Either motivates people or you end up dying and I’m just glad that it motivated me. I mean I feel better, I look better, I gained my weight back, I gained my spirit back,” says Kevin.
And his son agrees.
“In one word: proud. It was a long journey, a long process, I know it was very hard for him. I just started to feel, I’ll believe it when I see it. And then I started to see it. And I embraced it, I encouraged it and at this point, I couldn’t be happier,” says Justin Parker, Kevin’s son.
The bath salt epidemic also had quite the impact on area law enforcement. But the Oneida County Sherriff says they haven’t seen a related incident in well over a month.
“We need to take advantage of this quiet time with bath salts. They’re not easy to get now like they were when they first came out and that was the challenge we were dealing with. They were cheap, they were easily accessible,” says Robert Maciol, Oneida County Sheriff.
So are they gone for good?
“The past few weeks, they’re falling off the radar screen, and that’s a great thing. And I hope and pray that trend continues. But I think I’d be way to optimistic if I said that they’re gone,” says Sheriff Maciol.
Sheriff Maciol says over the summer months, Oneida County had the highest number of bath salt incidents in the state. But as January kicks off, he’s hopeful for a new year filled with new beginnings and fewer cases involving the drug.