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Workers at Bean’s Cafe say spice never went away

By Lauren Maxwell 7:14 PM March 15, 2017

Two years ago, the drug Anchorage residents heard the most about was spice; now it’s heroin. But it turns out spice never went away.

Bean’s Cafe assistant director Kim Kovol said they’ve seen a recent rise in its use.

“It’s rampant and we don’t see it going away any time soon,” Kovol said.

In the fall of 2015, Anchorage had a record year for spice overdoses. It seemed like paramedics could barely keep up. Assistant Fire Chief Erich Scheunemann said they were taking people to the hospital again, and again and again.

“Over a 24-hour shift, we were transporting up to 20 people who were suspected of using spice,” Scheunemann said. “(There’s been) nothing like that since.”

But Scheunemann said there has been a recent spike. One day in February, he said, paramedics encountered seven or eight cases of suspected spice.

Kovol said she’s seen it too.

“Maybe not as acute as it was two years ago when it first hit us, but the fact that it started so early and that we are seeing several instances of it a day has our alarm bells ringing,” Kovol said.

Lisa Caldeira, the director of the Brother Francis Shelter, agreed that spice is still a problem. But she said one thing they aren’t seeing as much of is the violent, unpredictable behavior that often accompanies the drug.

“We aren’t seeing that rage, for example, or even the comatose-like appearance,” Caldeira said. “So the myriad reactions that we used to see a couple years go, those have definitely decreased.”

Scheunemann said it’s not uncommon to see spice levels rise and fall. He said the recent spike doesn’t mean another epidemic is on the way.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.

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