Anchorage police: 12-year-old hospitalized after showing symptoms of spice overdose
Updated Monday, Aug. 17, 7 p.m.
Anchorage police say a 12-year-old was hospitalized Saturday after showing symptoms of a spice overdose.
Just after 4 p.m., authorities responded to the area of East 4th Avenue and Patsy Street in Northeast Anchorage after receiving a call that a juvenile boy “had possibly taken spice and had overdosed,” according to Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.
Police say the 12-year-old was spotted in the roadway by a passerby; “he was throwing up and speaking gibberish,” Castro wrote.
When medics responded to the scene, they determined the juvenile had symptoms of an overdose from the drug. Police say he was unconscious when they transported him to the hospital.
Officers were unable to speak to the juvenile, but his mother told APD she had spoken to her son an hour before. She said he “sounded fine and told her he was going to do his chores,” Castro wrote.
It is unknown where the 12-year-old obtained the spice drug — a chemical mixture of herbs and man-made chemicals that has become problematic in recent weeks. This incident is one of nine spice-related calls that APD has responded to over the weekend, according to data from police. Police have responded to more than 90 spice-related calls for service since July 31, the data shows.
One male in particular has been cited for possession of spice seven times in the past few weeks, Castro says. Anyone caught possessing or selling spice faces a $500 fine per package and a citation.
Castro says the case involving the juvenile has been forwarded to APD detectives for further investigation.
“Police encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers of spice,” Castro says. “And if they come across it, to contact police immediately.”
With more than 100 people taken to the hospital over the past few weeks, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services launched an investigation into the problem.
“It’s unnerving. Spice is a very concerning drug, primarily because it’s totally unregulated,” said state epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin. “A lot of people think of spice as something that’s maybe a natural product. It’s not natural at all.”
He added that companies overseas can synthesize more than 100 different types of spice in their laboratories.
McLaughlin said the investigation shows not everyone who likely overdosed on spice was looking for that drug; some may have thought they were smoking marijuana.
“They may take what they think is a normal amount of marijuana for them and be getting spice — which is much more potent,” he explained.
KTVA’s Heather Hintze contributed reporting
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