Editor’s note: The teenagers involved are not named in this story because of a Spokesman-Review policy of protecting the identities of juveniles in such cases.
Seven teenagers overdosed on a prescription drug Wednesday night and three remained hospitalized Thursday, one in critical condition.
The teens, all friends, had congregated at a north Spokane home where one boy produced a bottle of prescription muscle relaxants, according to a Spokane Police Department statement.
A father of one of the teens said he found his daughter and three of her friends - a girl and two boys - unconscious in the basement of his house at 2:40 a.m. By that time, three other teens had left the house.
His 14-year-old daughter was red, swollen and thrashing about, he said. A friend, a 13-year-old girl, was blue and barely breathing.
One of the boys regained consciousness and gave the names of the three other teenagers who had taken the pills. Parents were notified and all seven teens and their parents ended up at Holy Family Hospital’s emergency room. Four were released.
The two girls were flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where they were reported in serious condition Thursday. A 17-year-old boy was in critical condition at Holy Family. He had not regained consciousness as of Thursday evening, according to the father who discovered the kids.
The father was alerted to the mass overdose by his 18-year-old daughter, who was driving home the 17-year-old boy about 1 a.m. when he began vomiting.
She said she took him to Holy Family, where he became very violent. It took several people to subdue him before he lost consciousness.
The girl then drove home and told her parents she thought her little sister and several friends had taken the same pills as the 17-year-old boy.
All the teens, ages 13 to 17, had to have their stomachs pumped. Several were put on respirators, the father said.
The effect of the drugs may have been compounded by alcohol. Police are investigating to determine who supplied the drugs to the teens and whether the parents were criminally negligent, said Spokane Police spokesman Dick Cottam.
The drug the teens ingested is called baclofen, Cottam said. It is a potent muscle relaxer that was popularly prescribed in the 1970s, but is rarely used now, he said.
The drug does not produce a “high feeling,” according to an information sheet provided for pharmacists. It is used to help relax muscles in the body and relieve spasms, particularly those associated with back injuries. Unwanted side-effects include confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and weakness.
Symptoms of overdose include blurred or double vision, convulsions, shortness of breath and vomiting.
Police found a prescription bottle for 300 pills on one of the teens. Only 62 tablets remained in the bottle. Police are trying to track down the person to whom the drug was prescribed, Cottam said.
“Whoever supplies kids with a drug like this is the real criminal,” said the man who found the teens passed out in his basement. “I can’t believe the cops think we were responsible.”
‘The father said he came home from work at 8:30 p.m. and the group of teens were gathered on his front lawn. He said he talked to them and everything seemed fine. He did not detect any drug or alcohol use at the time.
Everyone except one girl was supposed to leave by 10 p.m., the father said.
His daughter had been through a recent drug treatment program because she had been using marijuana last spring, he said.
“We thought everything was going great. We worried about some of her friends,” her dad said. “I don’t know what drove her to do this.”
All of the students are either drop-outs or enrolled in alternative school programs, Mead School District officials said.
Neighbors said the home where the incident occurred is a frequent gathering place for teenagers.
The father said given his daughter’s past troubles, he would rather have her and her friends in his house than somewhere else where he couldn’t monitor them.
“What am I supposed to do, frisk every kid that comes in my house?” he asked. “I don’t know what we’re going to do next. Definitely tighten down on the rules. But I don’t know how without pushing her away.”