AUGUSTA — Maine child welfare officials say an additional 200 children have been placed in foster care or with relatives in the past year because their parents are abusing the synthetic drug known as bath salts.

The state has transferred $1 million to the Office of Child and Family Services from unspent funds so it can afford room and board payments for those children.

An additional $4.2 million will be needed to cover expenses for children through June 30, 2015.

Agency director Therese Cahill-Low tells the Bangor Daily News the state was “blind-sided” by a surge in bath salts abuse late last year.

Bath salts can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed and can cause hallucinations, convulsions, and psychotic episodes.

Maine has outlawed the drug.

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