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Concentrated bath salts being used as a drug.

That's how Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold has been approaching the situation. He recently charged four people involved with head shops called Bad Boys Toys in Palmyra, Lemoyne and Elizabethtown with a slew of charges related to selling bath salts and synthetic marijuana under the state ban.

"Call it whatever you want, the only purpose is to get high," he said.

Arnold thinks the new laws might have had some effect in sending the sales underground, but use hasn't dropped.

"We haven't seen as many crimes as a result of the use of these drugs, but if the use has gone down, I haven't seen that," he said. "It's still out there, just not all across the shelves anymore. It's being sold a little more discretely."

Geisler also thinks the use has not peaked.

"I can tell you some drug rehabs we work with are still seeing a tremendous number coming in for treatment," he said.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a man was charged with trying to rape a store clerk in Steelton while high on bath salts.

Count, however, said he has seen a dramatic decrease in users seeking treatment.

"It peaked last summer," he said. "Now people are back to the tried and true ways of alcohol, marijuana and heroin."

He thinks the use of bath salts has dropped because they are scary.

"It was such a negative experience for everybody," he said. "People were really out to lunch. They were becoming psychotic, and it lasted for weeks."

Some national figures seem to bear this out. The American Association of Poison Control Centers keeps tracks of the number of calls its members answer regarding bath salts.

In 2010 and 2011, the increase was huge ' 304 calls in 2010 and 6,138 in 2011. The height of the calls came between March and August. There were 720 in May and 743 in June.

But by September, it was dropping off, and by December there were only 222 calls.

It's not just seasonal. In February of this year there were 229 calls compared with 487 last February.

While some have noticed the drop, others have not. It tends to be regional.

Sally Kammerer, director of the Cumberland County Drug and Alcohol Commission, said there was a dropoff right after the state enacted the ban, but use seems to be increasing again, particularly among adults.

"I haven't heard anybody say they like it," she said. "They said it was pretty uncomfortable. But people who take it are not necessarily making rational decisions."

Some might try it because they believe it will be harder to detect in blood tests, Kammerer said.

Mavis Nimoh of Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Services said her organization never saw a lot of people seeking treatment for bath salts.

She said some people who might have been lured because they thought bath salts were legal are steering away from them ' the people "who were playing on the boundaries of the law." Bath salts also might have appealed to addicts "who wanted to try something new," she said. She also has talked to people who have used bath salts and didn't like the high.

Also, testing for the substances has not caught up to the use, she said. Some might try it because they think it would be harder to detect if they are stopped for driving under the influence.

At the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, doctors believe they have been seeing an increase in patients being treated for symptoms related to bath salt use, but it is hard to tell if that is the cause, according to spokesman Scott Gilbert. Doctors just treat the symptoms, he said.

Bath salts can be difficult for emergency rooms to deal with because of the odd combination of physical and psychological symptoms, Kammerer said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ingesting or snorting bath salts can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions. There are no studies on long-term effects.

Brian Edmonson runs the Hemp's Above shop in Mechanicsburg. He never sold bath salts, he said, but he used to sell synthetic marijuana.

"As soon as the ban came, we got rid of everything," he said. "There are some pretty stiff penalties."

Now he sells a product made of natural herbs that he said is legal. Customers often inquire about bath salts, jewelry cleaner or similar compounds, he said, but he thinks the requests peaked last summer when it was a new thing.

He said he has heard stories of people acting strangely while high on bath salts. He said he doesn't go near the stuff.

"It's not like smoking a doobie and feeling a little sleepy," he said.