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      Bath Salts: What one Houghton family lost

      This week, we've shared with you the severe physical and psychological effects users of a designer synthetic drug called bath salts have experienced.

      One man has never used bath salts but says they've changed his life forever.

      "Our childhood was a good childhood; we played sports, (my brother Bill) was well liked," said Houghton Police Sergeant Scott Monette.

      Scott Monette says he was aware that his younger brother Bill, who was 36 at the time, had been coping with substance abuse since his mid twenties.

      "He was more of a closet user. He didn't use around a whole bunch of people; when he did use, he went into the confines of his own home and binge used," Monette said.

      It started with Ritalin, then moved into harder drugs. By February 2011, he had managed to stay sober for several months. Then he decided to stop at a local head shop and try a new drug he'd heard about. It was bath salts. It was legal at the time, and it was cheap. Tragedy struck.

      "I was working that night. I went up to the Sheriff's Department and the sergeant up there brought me into a room and told me my brother had passed; it was because an overdose from the bath salts," Monette said.

      Those close to Bill believe it was his first experience with the drug. His autopsy report revealed that coronary artery disease, combined with the effects of the bath salts, had killed him.

      "To deliver a death notification to your parents that their son had just overdosed on bath salts, it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do," Monette said.

      Before his brother's death, even with his work in law enforcement, Scott Monette knew little about bath salts. Now, he and his family are speaking out about its dangers and those who profit from it.

      "The bottom line for these people is money, and they don't care about you or anybody else," Monette said.

      The drug is no longer legal to sell or use in Michigan, but addicts say families can make a difference in their battle to overcome.

      Warning signs that an individual is abusing bath salts include: possession of a smoking pipe, spoons, needles, cotton balls, and rubber bands. Bath salts are available in both powder and pill forms, in a variety of colors and sold under several labels, often including the phrase 'not for human consumption.'

      Users tell us you may also notice changes in behavior and avoidance of social situations.

      For now, the Monette family just hopes to get this drug out of the U.P. and keep other families safe.

      "It can happen to you, it can happen to your family. It has happened to ours," Monette said.

      There are several resources for both users and family members of substance abusers.

      We'll conclude our bath salt series Friday night with a look at what local law enforcement officials are doing to combat the problem.

      Click here for a list of resources if you or a loved one is dealing with substance addiction.