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9 Middle School Girls Sickened After Apparently Eating Methadone Pills

Nine middle school girls were sickened after apparently eating methadone pills supplied by a 16-year-old boy, police said.

The girls were hospitalized Wednesday and being kept for observation at Heartland Regional Medical Center. "It appears that the students are doing OK," St. Joseph police Capt. Kevin Castle said.

The teen suspected of providing the prescription methadone -- a drug commonly used to treat heroin addiction -- was charged with distributing a controlled substance. Officials are still trying to determine where he got the drugs.

Castle said the Benton High School student is believed to have given the pills to a middle school girl on a school bus. Police believe the girl then distributed the pills to other girls, most or all of them eighth-graders.

The girls first complained of feeling nauseous and groggy, and at least one was salivating excessively, school administrators said. Around noon, the girls were crying as they walked to ambulances, and one hysterical girl was taken from the school on a stretcher.

School and police officials said it is unclear whether the girls knew what they were taking. All nine of the Spring Garden Middle School girls face potential sanctions, officials said.

District administrator Cheri Patterson sent a letter home with students discussing the situation. It encouraged parents to talk to their children.

"Drugs, whether prescription or not prescription, are dangerous drugs. And as some of our students found out, you take a scary risk when you ingest them," Patterson said in the letter.