Nine Hospitalized In One Night For Overdose Symptoms In California

By Paul Gaita 03/05/18

Other individuals on the scene reportedly said that some or all of the nine victims had taken a "blue pill" of indeterminate nature.

group of medics or doctors carrying unconscious women patient on hospital gurney to emergency

Nine men of college age appear to have overdosed on what is alleged to have been an opioid after attending a party near Santa Barbara, California.

Police said that deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and paramedics responded to an emergency call at a residence in Isla Vista on the evening of March 1, and found two unconscious men experiencing what appeared to be symptoms of an overdose.

After reviving one of the men with the overdose reversal drug naloxone, the deputies checked the home and found seven more individuals exhibiting what were described by police as symptoms of an overdose.

All of the men—some of whom were initially reported to have been students at the nearby University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)—were transported to area hospitals, where eight were released and a ninth was expected to have been released on Friday, March 2.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office issued a statement on March 2 that reported that the incident began at 10 p.m. the previous evening. Deputies responding to a report of an unconscious male at a residence on the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista found the individual lying unconscious in the back seat of a car.

The report stated that the man's housemates claimed that he had ingested an unknown amount of alcohol and the prescription opioid pain reliever OxyContin. 

As personnel from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and American Medical Response transported this individual to an area hospital, deputies and officers on the scene learned that another male subject at the house was also suffering from what appeared to be symptoms of an overdose, including arrested breathing.

A sheriff's deputy gave the second individual a single dose of Narcan nasal spray, which appeared to cause his condition to improve. Fire and emergency response personnel then returned to the residence to attend to this second victim before also transporting him to a hospital.

Deputies and officers then conducted a "welfare check" of the residence, and discovered a gathering of approximately 20 college-age students, seven of whom were also exhibiting signs and symptoms that suggested they were undergoing an overdose.

Other individuals in attendance reportedly said that some or all of the nine victims had taken a "blue pill" of indeterminate nature, though according to a representative of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, "The assumption is that they all took OxyContin because they all had similar if not the same symptoms."

In 2017, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Coroner's Unit reported an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths between 2011 and 2016, with opioids present in approximately 65% of the overdose deaths in the county in 2016.

The sheriff's office and county Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) announced in 2017 that they had begun a program for officers and first responders to administer Narcan in cases of suspected opioid overdoses.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.