Treatments for spike in overdoses becoming costly for city

The drug, also known as K2 or spice, can be as cheap as a dollar, but has serious consequences.

City officials say almost 100 people have overdosed from synthetic drugs this week, and the medical attention for each victim is piling up, costing the tax payers and the community a lot of time and resources.

For St. Louis City First responders, it's been a very long week. They continue to treat dozens of people downtown, mostly homeless, who have overdosed on synthetic drugs. 

"It's really concerning that we're having this large of an outbreak all at once," said Brandon Costerison, the Missouri Opioid/Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education(MO-HOPE) Program Director for the NCADA.

Authorities say the outbreak is happening in a concentrated area on Locust between 14th and 15th street.

The drug, also known as K2 or Spice, can cost as little as a dollar and gives the same high as marijuana, but its side effects can be very dangerous.

"There's not just one drug that we're talking about but there's over 60 different chemical compounds that get marketed as synthetic marijuana," Costerison said.

Before an overdose, reactions from K2 can range from vomiting, seizures, unusually high body temperatures and, in some cases, violent behavior.

"It's not because these are violent people but because these drugs are hijacking their brains and making them lash out in ways they wouldn't normally," Costerison said.

Officials said treatments for the overdose victims are becoming very costly for the city.

Aside from hospital stays, each ambulance transport costs roughly $600. 

The money and resources ultimately falls on tax payers and the community.

"I hope that we don't end up in a position where there's an emergency and people aren't unable to get the help they need in a timely matter because of having to respond to medical calls," Costerison said.


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