LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Emergency responders are blaming a bad batch of spice, also known as synthetic marijuana, for a string of severe and often violent overdoses in July.
"It looks like someone is writhing in pain when they're on it, to be honest with you," says Lafayette police Capt. Scott Galloway.
"People a lot of times don't know where they're at. You can talk to them and they're incoherent and they're not responsive," says Nicholas Cunningham, a certified recovery specialist with Phoenix Paramedic Solutions.
He says spice is manufactured in local garages by spraying a leafy, green substance with toxic chemicals.
"They use everything from acetone to fingernail polish remover to bug spray," he says.
Authorities are blaming the problem on a bad or more intense batch circulating the community.
"Since people make this, they can intensify it by putting more chemical on it," Cunningham says.
Although the drug is similar in appearance to marijuana, Galloway says the similarities stop there.
"This is not related to any sort of marijuana reaction at all," he says. "This along the lines of a PCP or a hard drug or something like that where people have violent overdoses or reactions."
Galloway says that's because the chemical make-up is unpredictable.
"It is your Russian roulette kind of thing where you're taking a chance," he says.
The influx of these cases is taxing on first responders.
"It always requires multiple officers, multiple services to handle these people," Galloway says.
"It can be extremely difficult .. these are people that are completely incoherent, that don't know where they are," Cunningham says. "They might be seizing."
Cunningham says Phoenix is working to connect these people to addiction services in the community. For more information, visit Phoenix's Quick Response Team website.