Police are warning about the dangers of “wasping,” or using wasp spray to get high as an alternative to methamphetamine, after several people overdosed on the insect killer in West Virginia.
Officers at Boone County Police Department say they’ve seen a rise in people using the spray to get a meth-like high, according to local news station WCHS. Some use the spray by itself as a meth substitute, while others combine it with the drug. People may also use hot metal sheets to crystallize the liquid so that it can be inhaled or injected.
According to a 2018 report by ABC News, bug sprays contain active ingredients called pyrethroids, which penetrate the insect’s nervous system to stun and kill them. But when humans ingest pyrethroids, they interfere with normal nerve signaling, causing abnormal sensation and sometimes seizures or paralysis.
Other side effects of ingesting the chemicals include: increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, headache, nausea, problems with coordination, swelling, and burning sensations. However, even just working with the spray can lead to severe illness, according to ABC News. It’s especially dangerous for people with lung conditions, such as asthma.
Police in West Virginia are working with medical centers to determine how to best treat people who’ve abused the spray, according to WCHS, but unfortunately, there’s not yet a standard for treatment.
If you think someone you know may be abusing wasp spray, alert them to the dangers of the substance and seek help. Users may believe if they’ve ingested the spray before and been fine, then they don’t have anything to worry about, but that’s false. You never know when the reaction might be deadly.