CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — There’s a warning out about recent overdoses linked to insecticides as the number of insecticide-related poisonings rises.
The purpose of wasp and hornet spray is to stun and kill the stinging flying insects. But drug users are ingesting the spray to get a cheap methamphetamine-like high with dangerous results.
On the street, it's known as “wasping.” It means spraying bug spray on meth or heating and crystalizing the bug spray to snort or smoke it. Either way, it can be dangerous and even deadly.
In West Virginia last week, three overdoses were blamed on wasp spray.
“When you ingest stuff like this, it changes the chemical characteristics of your blood,” said Phil Price, with the Cherokee Multi-Agency Drug Task Force. “Obviously, it kills wasps and hornets while they fly, so the effects on the human, I’m sure, are not so positive."
The key chemical in wasp spray can cause bizarre behavior, seizures and severe, even deadly, allergic reactions in humans.
“Incredibly dangerous, terribly dangerous," addiction counselor and specialist Grace Price said.
Price said she has nearly a half-dozen clients who admitted to recently using wasp spray as a meth substitute. She said some would spray it on a metal screen, attach jumper cables and electrify the screen to cook and crystalize the wasp spray.
“Then they would sell that, snort it or smoke it," she said.
For hardcore meth addicts with little money, wasp spray is seen as a cheap fix, a high with many downsides, including the risk of lasting brain damage.
“It's not illegal, so we can't do anything about it. We can tell them, ‘This is a terrible idea,’ but we can't arrest them for it," Phil Price said.
A recent report says poison control centers average 90,000 calls a year about exposure to pesticides. Chronic exposure can cause nerve and organ damage, cancer and birth defects.
But when drug abusers are desperate for a cheap fix, they're not considering the risks.
Channel 2's Tom Regan reached out to local hospitals. So far, they say they have not taken in any patients who overdosed on wasp spray. They're hoping it stays that way.
Cox Media Group