Police and social advocates say addicts are abusing hand sanitizer after the product flooded onto store shelves and into dispensers in most public buildings last year.
Sgt. Darrall Randy Kotchon, a Winnipeg police officer who works in a community support unit, said his officers have received reports that addicts are consuming the gel and have found a lot of discarded bottles of the stuff. Experts say people are adding salt to the sanitizer, which separates pure alcohol from the product with potentially dangerous results.
"What unfortunately has happened is people are realizing this is something they can use to get drunk and intoxicated on," Kotchon said.
Brian Bechtel, executive director of Main Street Project, a city homeless shelter, said staff confiscated four jugs of sanitizer this week alone. Some clients steal sanitizer from public places, he said, though staff members are now seizing more consumer bottles.
"It seems like it's almost daily now," said Bechtel.
Staff decided to use non-alcoholic sanitizer at the shelter to discourage misuse.