Police who fear wasp spray is linked to three overdoses in West Virginia have warned against using the product as an alternative to meth.
People in Boone County, Virginia, are creating a substance similar to meth, according to police.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. Charles Sutphin told WCHS: “We’re seeing this here on the streets in Boone County.
“People are making a synthetic type of methamphetamine out of wasp spray.”
Sutphin told the broadcaster users can behave erratically, and their hands and feet might become swollen and red. He described it was a “cheap fix” but said the long-term effects are unknown.
“From what we’re being told, if you use it, you know, you might use it one or twice and be fine, but the third time when your body hits that allergic reaction, it can kill you,” he warned.
With a population of around 22,349, Boone County was once the top coal producer in the U.S. But between 2009 and 2015, 60 percent of its coal mining jobs were lost. The county has since been beset by drug problems, according to U.S. News, and West Virginia as a whole has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids.
A local woman named Diana Ferguson told WCHS: “In my opinion, drugs are so bad around here. It’s so available to people, and then all the time trying things new that we wouldn’t even think about.”
But the practice is not unique to Boone County. Last year, officials in Ohio urged people not to use insect spray to get high.
Summit County Inspector Bill Holland told WCPO drugs users were cutting meth with the spray.
Holland said: “Some are spraying it on the meth. Some are spraying it in a manner where they can heat it up and then crystallize it, and then once it’s crystallized, they can heat it up again and shoot it into their veins.”
Dr. Garry Thrasher of the Oriana House drug dependency clinic told WCPO: “Methamphetamines by themselves can cause psychotic behaviors, sometimes paranoia and even violence, and combining it with another substance that’s abused is very problematic.”
And NBC News affiliate Valley News Live, which covers North Dakota, reported on a similar trend last year.
Don Martin, communications manager with F-M Ambulance, told the broadcaster users can lose their balance, become unconscious, disorientated, feel nauseous and vomit.
“They don’t know the long-term effects,” he said. “But if you actually look at the science of it – it’s something made to kill something. So long use of it, there’s got to be some long term effects.”