It's been nearly two years since the bodies of two Warren County men were found near an abandoned vehicle in the Allegheny National Forest.
Their deaths have since been attributed to the use of the designer drug known as bath salts, and the Warren County Drug Task Force has continued to educate Warren County residents to the dangers of the drug.
On Tuesday, Warren County District Attorney Ross McKeirnan and Sheriff Kenneth Klakamp had the attention of Warren Area High School students during a presentation on bath salts.
"The Warren County Drug Task Force is taking an initiative to educate the public on the designer drug known as bath salts," McKeirnan said before the presentation. "Now bath salts are in vogue and it's a particularly dangerous drug inciting bizarre, aggressive behaviors. In my most recent homicide case, evidence was revealed that bath salts were used immediately prior to the shooting. So we plan on going to the schools. Sheriff Klakamp has put together an excellent presentation and to fund these presentations we will be using money which (has been) forfeited by bath salts dealers and that's poetic justice to use their money against them. "
Klakamp said the ripple effect of the drug reaches not just the users, but parents, siblings and friends who "live with the addiction also."
Users have recently been injecting the drug using needles, which he expects will increase the cases of Hepatitis C and HIV in Warren County. Klakamp described the side effects of the drug which includes extreme paranoia. Users have reported they "see shadow people" and two people in Forest County reportedly killed themselves while high on the drug.
McKeirnan said a bath salts user recently told him he lost 80 pounds over three months while taking the drug; another reported staying up for 13 days straight; and a man in Youngsville had to be tazed three times before he could be subdued by police officers.
Users of the drug become "super human and super stupid," he said.
During the county-wide drug bust last year, Klakamp said users of the drug who were also selling were so paranoid they had five or six home security systems installed.
Describing the long-term effects of the drug, Klakamp said heavy users will eventually need a kidney transplant; the effects 10 to 15 years down the road aren't known.
Will users have flashbacks years later like users of LSD?
"Who knows," Klakamp said.
Right now there are only seven treatment centers in Pennsylvania capable of taking users of bath salts.
"It effects all of us," Klakamp said, adding that users taken into custody essentially become wards of the county, where treatment for users locally is paid for by the taxpayers.