Illegal bath salts 'ruining lives', still easy to get

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Before most of us had even heard of synthetic drugs, the damage to many had already been done. "Bath salts" have proven to be extremely addictive and have ruined countless lives.

Jeremy Irwin says his addiction has taught him to spot another user a mile away. 

Irwin says he was a regular bath salt buyer, buying from the same store and the same person for months. When he first started, the man-made synthetic drug was sold over the counter.

Soon after trying it for the first time, he says he started "shooting it". "That is where it is too intense, and (you) can not understand reality from fantasy," says Irwin

Indiana lawmakers made buying, selling, using or possessing bath salts illegal as of July 1. By that time, Irwin says he was addicted. Standing 30 yards from his old source has him a nervous wreck. "They close the doors and they go into the back, grab it and bring it out in a black bag and they give it to me. It's that easy," he says.

Using bath salts landed him in jail. He says he is scared from being tazed by police. But the reason he is telling this story, he says, is because the drug is still easy to get. He says the same store that sold to him is still selling to his father.

The scourge of this drug has fingers in most every central Indiana city and town. The evidence shows up at AIT Labs in Indianapolis. The company was one of the first to test for synthetic drugs, and the samples come in almost daily, even with new state and federal laws.

There is a new twist: the drug manufacturers have started to change their product again, selling the drug in pill and tablet form instead as powder. It's yet another attempt to hide the drugs from police.
Jacobi Cavaletto, a Greenfield native, is the father to five children. He might not be sitting here, talking to us had it not been for something his son said to him.

"He says dad, there is more things to do than drugs, there is better things to do," said Cavaletto. "And he is eight."

In the past two years, Cavaletto has been in jail 4 times. There are physical changes in his face. He added to his tattoos during his addiction. It's an addiction he says is fed by gas station suppliers.

As lawmakers had tried to make bath salts and other synthetic drugs illegal, the drug manufactures exploited loopholes in the law with minor changes to their substance and kept on selling. Lawmakers have closed the loophole, but it has not kept synthetic drug off the street. 

Cavaletto says his addiction was simple: he liked the drug, at least in the beginning. "It is pretty much a better high. It is cheaper, it lasts longer and it so easy to get. I mean, I could get it just like that everyday," he told us.

And it was the same for 19-year-old Amber Eckles. She, too, says it is easy to get. "Walk into a gas station like you are buying a pack of cigarettes," says Eckles.

For almost two months straight, she and a few friends smoked and snorted bath salts around the clock. To pay for her habit, she broke into homes, until police caught her. "I should be in college right now," she said. "I should be playing basketball."

She lost a basketball scholarship after being convicted of two felonies. She was sent to jail before finishing her first semester in college, opportunities she says that might be gone forever. "I will never have the chances that I had prior to my introduction to bath salts," she said.

All three of them say baths salts are extremely addicting, with devastating emotional and physical effects. The last time Cavaletto was arrested, he weighed 120 pounds. He often went days without eating or sleeping. And when Greenfield police got to him, he says he was so high and so out of control, it took four police officers to get him under control.

"Just like you are superhuman on that stuff," said Cavaletto. Greenfield police tazed him seven times. "And I was still like, they couldn't stop me until it put me in coma in the hospital."

Cavaletto says that was it for him. "I have been to hell and back, or literally that stuff makes you think you are in hell, it really does," he said.

And the "hell" is still sold in gas stations and convenience stores all over Indiana.