A batch of apparently tainted methamphetamine sent more than a dozen people to the hospital in less than 24 hours, with some patients experiencing hallucinations, hyper-anxiety and combativeness, according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Since Thursday night, at least 14 people with life-threatening conditions attributed to meth use have been treated at Regions or United Hospital in St. Paul. All are expected to recover, sheriff’s spokesman Randy Gustafson said Saturday.
“This is over a tenfold increase in the average daily number of drug overdose emergencies treated by Regions,” Gustafson said.
Reported symptoms included not only hallucinations, but also extreme agitation, excited delirium, temperatures soaring as high as 105 degrees, and a racing heartbeat, conditions not typically seen in meth users, he said.
Meth is a highly addictive, dangerous drug, but the apparent tainting of the street drug has greatly heightened the danger, said Gustafson, adding that the overdose victims are coming from throughout the east metro area, including St. Paul, Roseville, Maplewood and Cottage Grove.
Authorities hope that the tainted supply is running out, but they are checking with agencies beyond the east metro. No uptick in drug cases has been reported in Hennepin County, Gustafson said.
“It could be that there are people suffering these same symptoms in their basement just after they smoked this tainted meth, and that we don’t know about; there probably are a lot of unreported cases,” Gustafson said.
One man under the influence of the drug jumped off a second-story roof in St. Paul, believing that he could fly, Gustafson said.
Because people on this substance are combative, authorities worry that they could hurt someone else.
“It really is scary,” Gustafson said. “You’ve got the poison of meth, and then somebody is adding something to it that’s making it even more poisonous.”
Joy Powell • 612-673-7750