Wasp Spray Overdose: West Virginians Suffer Ill Effects After Using ‘Meth Alternative’

According to the West Virginia State Police, there’s a new and rising drug trend in Boone County, and it’s very alarming.

Per police reports, wasp spray that is used to kill insects is apparently being used as a substitute for methamphetamine (meth). Even more alarming, several people from the county have already overdosed on it.

"We're seeing this here on the streets in Boone County. People are making a synthetic type [of] methamphetamine out of wasp spray," said Sgt. Charles Sutphin of the West Virginia State Police.

And it’s not just in Boone County, as the trend, known as wasping, has been rising in the country in the last few years. According to a 2018 report, the users either combine the wasp spray with actual meth, or just by itself. They usually do this by crystallizing the spray liquid on hot metal sheets, allowing them to either inhale the substance or inject it into their system.

According to Sutphin, physical effects of the drug include uncontrolled and erratic behavior, as well as extreme swelling on both the hands and the feet.

"From what we're being told, if you use it, you know, you might use it once or twice and be fine, but the third time when your body hits that allergic reaction, it can kill you," he said.

Bug sprays usually contain an active ingredient called pyrethroid. This is usually the one responsible for stunning and killing insects. However, when ingested, they can interfere with our nerve signaling. This can lead to abnormal situations, such as paralysis or seizures. In addition, these chemicals can also cause difficulty in breathing, an increase in heart rate, nausea, headache, coordination problems and even burning sensations.

According to Sutphin, the challenge is now to find out how to treat the symptoms, as well as how to prevent continued use of it.

At the moment, the state police in Boone County has decided to work with local medical centers and poison control to determine what the best treatment is for users. The team is also in the process of making information about it available to other counties and local agencies to spread awareness and promote safety.

Methamphetamine Methamphetamine's effect on risk and reward causes risky behavior in users. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock