Monday, March 31, 2008

Resources

AtHealth.com features 'A Parent's Guide to Preventing Inhalant Abuse', a brief but informative page that answers many questions that parents face about inhalants.

There is a Gateway Drug Forum being held in Liberty, Kansas on Thursday that will touch on various drug-related issues, inhalants included. It's good that some schools are taking inhalants as seriously as they do marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.

In the TeensHealth section of the website KidsHealth is a fact sheet devoted to inhalants that is a good resource for teens and parents alike. The information is easy-to-read and has colorful starred sections on the right side that explains things like 'dusting' as well as what to do if you find someone using inhalants. The layout and explanations make this a good page to email your teenager to ensure that they actually read it instead of just scanning a few lines.

Similarly, the inhalant page of GirlPower.gov is aimed at a younger crowd and describes inhalant use in a more conversational manner. One of the warnings about the effects of inhalants on the nose and ears:
Sniffing inhalants can make you lose your sense of smell. Can you imagine never smelling freshly baked chocolate cookies again? I sure can't. Sniffing inhalants can also make your nose bleed. Yuck! Sniffing inhalants over a long period of time can also cause you to lose your hearing. People lose their hearing because the cells that send messages to the brain about hearing get destroyed by chemicals in some inhalants. I like myself too much to make my nose bleed and to damage my hearing; how about you?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inhalant Abuse Prevention Awareness Institute

This conference, presented by the Virginia Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition, was held on March 12th in Staunton, VA. The Coalition consists of a group of concerned prevention professionals and educators who are dedicated to raising awareness of inhalant abuse by providing factual information and resources in an effort to decrease inhalant use across the state.


On the night of the 11th, an inhalant prevention summit was held and included all the leaders in the field. Wayne Frith, the facilitator for the evening, engaged the participants on how to utilize the most effective strategies to spread the message at both the community and the national level.

It went very well and a number of interesting topics were presented, such as:

The Tragedy of Inhalant Abuse - this the first topic, presented by Sgt. Jeff Williams. He spoke about losing his son to inhalant abuse and played several YouTube videos to highlight children's exposure to inhalants as being cool.


Inhalant Abuse Basics - Dr. Robert Balster of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University explained what are inhalants as well as why and how they are abused.

Communities in Action - representatives from three different communities shared their approaches to inhalant abuse.






Teaching Kids About Inhalants - the updated Inhalant Abuse Prevention Manual was used to explain the principles for teaching young people about inhalants.





ACE was glad to be a part of this conference and to have our Inhalant Prevention Kits handed out to all attendees.

We'll be working with the Coalition for the next two years as they reach towards their goal of decreasing inhalant abuse in Virginia by 2009.

Inhalant Use in India

Expressindia.com's "Region Drug Abuse Statistics Way Ahead of National Average" indicates that inhalant abuse is one of several drug problems that are being faced in Chandigarh, India. The Postgraduate Institute De-addiction Centre handles many of these cases.
While patients of all age groups and economic status are victims of drug abuse, substance abuse is fairly common among teenagers and young adults below 25 years of age. Common inhalant abuse includes white ink, petrol fumes and iodex. “We see around 30 cases of inhalant abuse a year and the number is increasing,” say doctors at the Centre.

Restrictions in Essex County, England

In order to curb inhalant abuse, the Essex County Council Trading Standards in England are conducting undercover test sales for various inhalants. They use a 14-year-old girl who attempts to buy a butane refill. Five stores out of fifty made the sale. Here are the results:
On each occasion the volunteer, who was supervised throughout the process, attempted to purchase butane lighter refills. Statistics show that these account for the majority of deaths among people using them for intoxication purposes, due to volatile substance abuse (VSA).

A number of shops visited also indicated that they would have made the sale, but were out of stock or unable to locate their supply. Trading Standards officers re-visited these retailers to advise them on age restricted sales.

The stores visited included both smaller independent stores and major retail chains. Trading Standards officers said they were concerned that some retailers still believe that the legal age for purchasing solvents is 16, rather than 18.

Statistics compiled by St George's University of London show that VSA is responsible for more deaths amongst young people aged 10-16 than “conventional” illegal drugs.

Roger Walters, county council executive member for Trading Standards said:
“Solvent abuse is a serious problem, which is why these products should not be made available to young people under the age of 18. There is simply no excuse for stores to flout the law on this.

We are planning to conduct more test sales for solvents, and any retailers who continue to ignore our warnings can expect to be punished severely.”

Do you think that these restrictions will be effective? If so, which inhalants (solvents) should be limited to adults? Will it curb abuse from products already in the home? What about abuse in those older than 18?

Also, with over 1,400 abusable inhalants, it would not be feasible to ban each one from underage purchase. If those most popularly used were restricted, would a new inhalant take its place?

Virginia SAFE Presentation

The Midlothian Exchange highlighted the story of Sgt. Jeff Williams in its article "Parents' First Defense Against Inhalants". Sgt. Williams spoke on March 12th at CJW Medical Center to parents, educators, and officials at a presentation from SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment). Says Sgt. Williams,
“Parents have to step in and say, ‘no’ … The movies have made it fun. They didn’t tell them they could die,” Williams said after showing a number of posted Web site videos of kids taking repeated “hits” from household products. “It metabolizes within two minutes. After two minutes, you can’t test and find it in the system.”

However, one can find a number of the abused items in the kitchen, the garage and sprinkled in everyone’s household for every day use. There are over 1,400 household products that contain a range of gases such as propane and refrigerant that 9, 10, and 11-year-olds have been known to use to get high. Williams admits that locking up all the items will not alleviate inhalant abuse. “We’re stuck with it and have to educate and teach our children why not to do it,” Williams said. “It’s not compressed air.”

“These chemicals are poisonous when introduced to the human body,” he said. Williams added that parents are the first line of defense for their children when it comes to looking for signs of abuse. “When they have multiple household products without a reason … You know something is up, because they’re not dusting,” he said.

Adolescents will also overuse perfume, cologne, and breath mints to mask the odor of solvent-based inhalants, he added. However, the biggest challenge for parents is when they catch children using household products. “You need to avoid exciting or stressing the person out,” Williams said.

The article also provided a link for parents to take online training about inhalants.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Inhalant News

Local news focus on inhalants: the Examiner recently posted an article called "Sniffing Beats Smoking Pot Among Young Teens" using data presented by the University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research. According to the Center,

Inhalants are the most popular type of drug among children 12 to 13, the report found, with more than 500,000 young teens experimenting with solvents. Lacquer thinner, paint solvents and other corrosive chemicals can dissolve the fat needed to keep brain cells and kidneys functioning, and are some of the most dangerous substances that can be inhaled for a buzz, said Tony Tomasello, director of the office of Substance Abuse Studies at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

"They really are not all the same. Some are much more dangerous than others,” Tomasello said. “Inhalant refers to the method of putting a drug into your system, not the type of drug.”


More news at Healthfinder.gov: "For Adolescents, Inhalants are Drug of Choice".

Inhalants featured in BusinessWeek, in their Lifestyle section.

BusinessWeek also had an article called "Children On Drugs: More Common than You Realize" last September in their Working Parents section.

NewsAnchorMom posted about inhalant abuse early last week.

From About.com: "Inhalant Abuse Remains an Adolescent Problem".

See other articles posted on the site, such as:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dentist Arrested for Misuing Laughing Gas

Dr. Norman Rubin of Long Island, New York was arrested for inhaling laughing gas for non-medical reasons. He was found by a patient

"in a treatment room "unresponsive and drooling, and he had the gas mask on his face," said Lt. Kevin Burke.

Medics rushed to the scene and revived the dentist. Rubin was charged with inhalation of hazardous inhalants.

He later told The Post that "it was a mistake to do," and said he had been suffering from a migraine.

He added that the incident had occurred during his lunch hour, when he wasn't seeing patients.

Rubin's dental license has been suspended several times in Illinois. He blamed that on "six disgruntled patients."


The story also ran at ABC7 online.
Photo courtesy of the New York Post.

17-Year-Old Dies in Michigan

The online newspaper of Monroe County, Michigan ran a story yesterday about Michael Crowder III, who died after inhaling computer duster in early December. He was found by his grandmother in the bathroom with a bag, the cleaner, and a belt. His mother said that she
"talked to her son many times about drugs. She told him about teenagers smoking pot and even snorting cocaine. But they never really talked about dusting because, frankly, she didn't know such a practice existed."I didn't realize what it was," she said quietly." [...]
"Everybody talks about cocaine and heroin and methamphetamines and alcohol," Ms. Feamster said from her mother's home in the Carleton Mobile Home Park. "But Michael wasn't interested in doing drugs. He was very, very educated on drug use. We talked about it."

Ms. Feamster, Michael's mother, has begun to speak out about inhalant use so that young people realize what a dangerous game it can be.
"It's Russian roulette. It really is," Ms. Feamster said. "And I have to talk about it. Maybe somebody will listen to me."

NIPAW News

Various news sources are writing about inhalant abuse, such as:

PerpetualParenting: "For Adolescents, Inhalants are Drug of Choice". This is a blog dedicated to a variety of different issues that parents face with their child.

Solvent and Volatile Substance Abuse: "US Teens Prefer Inhalants to Marijuana, Researchers Say". - a great source for information on inhalants in the United Kingdom.

Kansas City infoZine: "March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week". Even though inhalants have been kind of forgotten in this article, they received a mention down towards the bottom.

Daily American: "Inhalants and Poisons".

Morning Sentinal: "Article on Huffing Put Focus on Problem". This is a letter to the editor in response to an article about inhalant abuse published last week. The author is an industrial hygienist warning about how children are inhaling chemicals at levels that are 1,000 - 10,000 times the amount that would be concerning in a workplace.

High Schoolers Cited for Dusting

Two 16-year-old boys were caught on tape inhaling dust remover at a high school in Bismarck, North Dakota. Another student reported them to an assistant principal, who looked at the past surveillance videos of the area and identified the pair.

The two boys were cited for inhalation of vapors.

Be Informed II

Inhalant abuse has been receiving some great exposure in Kempton, Pennsylvania. The fire station highlighted inhalant.org on their display board. Janna Zuber's sign from Bowie, Maryland is really gaining momentum!

Huffing, Puffing, and Dying

ArticleCat featured a post written by Corinne Bridgewater about a tragedy that hit close to her family. She explained how she had never thought of inhalant abuse as something that would appeal to her kids, and how shocked she was when a friend told her about her son's abuse problem.

My friend Christine was happily married; she had two teenage children, one boy and a girl. She was in all ways, just like me. We had a mothers group that met every Wednesday morning, where we would talk of “parenting”. We really thought we had the pulse of our children.

Then it happened, Christine came to our Wednesday morning group and told us her son Paul got arrested the previous night for huffing. Of course he said he was sorry, that it was his first time and he didn’t really like it at all, he was just going along with his friends. We took up the banner, our teenagers were not going to be huffing, puffing and dying!

Oh yes, we had found the problem, come against it with awareness and all was well in our lives once more. Well, won’t someone slap dumb on our foreheads?

Awareness hit our families hard. Paul was addicted to huffing and not only that, the stuff he used in his addiction were all things in their home, all things in my home. Stuff like whip cream cans, nail polish, white out and air freshener.

From Christine we learned to look at our children in new ways. Not that we believed they were doing anything, but it was comforting to be armed with the ability to at least know. So we looked into their eyes to see if they were glassy or glazed over, we made sure their appetites were always good and definitely did we lean in close to see if we smelled anything like chemicals coming from the breath or clothes.

Unfortunately our story does not end there. Oh no. Our banner was then torn to shreds one night. Our teenagers are huffing, puffing and dying.

It was midnight and the phone rang; every parent hates these phone calls, as you turn to pick up the receiver your mind is going over just where your children are. This was a call from Christine, her voice was calm, John had been in an accident and she was at the hospital. The police had just left.

Yes, my thoughts were, “Phew, if the police just left at least he is alive”. But before I could speak she said, “It seems, his friend and him were driving around having fun and their car went off the road. The car is smashed. Again I was going to say, “Well at least the boys are Ok”. Once more she cut in, “both the boys had been huffing, their faces covered with gray paint, and they are dead.”

If I never have to hear the sound of that voice coming from someone I know, it will be too soon. Our teenagers are huffing, puffing and dying kept running in my head.

I can only add for anyone that is reading this, if you think or know someone that is “playing around with inhalants”, get them help. Expose it. Don’t worry what they are
saying or thinking. Just do it. Don’t think because it is a cleaning supply that is safe in your house, that is safe from your kids. Whatever you believe, don’t believe that inhalants can’t hurt, because believe me they can kill, because our teenagers are huffing, puffing and dying.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kroger Display

Kroger Pharmacy #555 in Kenton, Ohio has taken the initiative to display brochures and posters for NIPAW. Kathleen Hilty is a technician working at the pharmacy who has given poison awareness talks for the past eight years.

After noticing the inhalant problem in the community, she added inhalant abuse to the discussions. In a letter to ACE, she mentions that,

"Children in our community were discovering this practice out of sheer 'boredom' and/or curiosity. Being a small town situated directly between major drug related cities, we have our share of problems. This program is very important to myself and our community and I will continute as long as I possible can."

This is another outstanding example of how individuals can really make a difference in their own communties. Great job, Kathleen!

Stop & Shop, Giant Pharmacies

Our pamphlets are still being displayed in over 500 Stop & Shop and Giant pharmacies on the East Coast for NIPAW, and our partnership with the supermarkets is also mentioned in the print copy of the circulars as well. Here's the online version of the consumer advisor's blog "Healthy Ideas" that specifically mentions ACE as well as our website, http://www.inhalant.org/.

We're really excited to see companies getting involved during National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, and hopefully other supermarkets will take Giant and Stop & Shop's lead in the fight against inhalant abuse.

Physiological Effects Caused By Inhalants Abuse

Posted on Testcountry.com, this article by Tarun Gupta explores the effects on the human body after using inhalants. Even though children may believe that something they can find in their own homes isn't harmful, the studies show otherwise:

Neuropathy:
Inhalants may cause widespread and long lasting effects on the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The neurotoxic effects of prolonged inhalant abuse include neurological syndromes that reflect damage to parts of the brain involved in controlling cognition, movement, vision, and hearing. Brain damage, which can lead to personality changes, impaired memory, hallucinations, loss of coordination and difficulty in walking, slurred speech and vision problems.


Cardiovascular complications:
Prolonged sniffing of the highly concentrated chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes. Various nitrites & methylene chlorides found in paint thinners and varnishes may cause blood oxygen depletion which may result in blackouts. Benzene, which is a known carcinogen, is used in gasoline and may also lead to bone marrow damage resulting in anemia.


Respiratory complications:
People who use inhalants can lose their sense of smell; experience nausea and nosebleeds; and develop various respiratory problems. When large amounts of inhalants are inhaled, these products may deprive the body of the oxygen needed to survive, which may lead to asphyxiation & choke a person to death! Inhalant users can die by suffocation, choking on their vomit, or by heart attack.

Muscular dystrophy:
Chronic use of inhalants can lead to muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone and strength. Heavy inhalant use may also lead to hand tremors & muscle cramps. Hexane (found in gasoline and glues), or nitrous oxide (present in some gas cylinders) may lead to numbness, tingling or spasms.


Other Organs:
Inhalants also are highly toxic to many other organs. It can produce significant damage to lungs, kidneys & liver. While Toluene (found in spray paints and glues) can cause liver disorders and kidney disorders, it along with trichloroethylene (used in cleaning and correction fluids) can lead to hearing loss.


Behavioral Effects:
This might include hallucinations, nausea, excessive sweating, headaches, chills and delirium i.e. usually a brief state of excitement and mental confusion often accompanied by hallucinations.

Recent News

CBS 8 in Knoxville, Tennessee printed some basic information about inhalants in their "Kindervision" section.

In a letter to the editor similar to one the Tuscaloosa News printed last week, Marty C. Malheiro urges parents in Salt Lake City to learn more about inhalant abuse.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Choking Death in New Zealand

A 14-year-old boy from Wainoni, New Zealand died in October after passing out while inhaling LPG (liquid petroleum gas). The coroner is now warning young people about the dangers of inhalant use, calling it a 'dangerous game', and

"I ask that every young person in this room tell their friends about how dangerous it is. Spread the word -- don't do it. The facts of the case so clearly speak for themselves."


Nathan Cunningham fell unconscious at some point while huffing and began vomiting. He died by asphixation.

Coverage

NIPAW continues to bring an increase in headlines for inhalant abuse.

eFluxMedia: "US Teens Prefer Inhalants to Marijuana".

Fox News: "Report: "Young Teens Favor Inhalants to Get High".

Pacific News Center: "PEACE Spreads Word Against Inhalants".

KTHV at 5:00: "Dangers of Huffing".

Addiction Help Services: "Addiction Help for 20% of the Population".

Healthy Kids Today: "Inhalants Are Drug of Choice for Youngest Users".

WSYR 9: "Teens Get High On Inhalants".

Past Inhalant Use

On the blog Here and Now, a woman now in her 30's describes her experience with trying inhalants at an early age:
I was 14 years old at my friend Rebecca’s house (because I lived there after running away from home), and we were bored troubled teens looking for something to do. We had some of our mutual friends come over and one of them decided it would be a good idea to bring butane for all of us to inhale so we could get high.

We all took turns inhaling the toxic fumes, not knowing that it could be our last breath. It made me feel dizzy and nauseated and drunk. At the time it was fun and games, plus everyone else was doing it too so why not? [...]

You may be thinking (my bobby would never do that)-but you just don’t know. My parents did not know that I was doing it either and I am 33 years old now with three children of my own and my parents still don’t know that I did that when I was a teen. That is not something a lot of kids want to brag about to an adult and will do anything to hide it from their parents. It is a dangerous reality and something that cannot be ignored. If you notice shoe polish or any other chemicals in your teens room, you may want to get to the bottom of it because it is always better to be safe now then sorry later when it’s too late.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Inhalant Abuse High in Guam

The Pacific Daily News reported yesterday that inhalant abuse is becoming a serious issue for youth in Guam. Middle-school students report a higher rate of use than high schoolers, and females are more likely to use than males.

Inhalant abuse is illegal in Guam, and they also regulate the sale of butane, propane, and other inhalants to minors.

GetHealthyGuam.org is holding a contest to design a poster to raise awareness about the dangers of inhalant use for NIPAW. The winner receives a scholarship to attend the 2008 Youth for Youth conference.

Headlines

The Morning Sentinal of central Maine covered poisons and inhalant abuse for the second time in two weeks today, with "Poisons in Plain Sight Putting Our Children At Risk". They advise parents to talk to their children at an early age:
Because inhalants are so common, there is little that police can do to interdict them, and there is little the Legislature can do to ban them.

Fighting inhalant use, like the task of fighting drug use in general, is best addressed through education. That education is best started early, by parents and teachers who know the risks and the signs of inhalant use.

Among the symptoms to look for are apathy in school, falling grades, unexplained absences, a dazed or dizzy appearance, anxiety, excitability and irritability.

InjuryBoard.com featured an article Friday entitled "Inhalants Most Popular Drug for Pre-Teens". It summarizes many of the statistics that were presented on Thursday by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition.

AdoptionBlogs.com also addressed the issue in "Inhalants Are the Drug of Choice for Those Becoming Teenagers". This article focuses on how inhalant abuse can affect children who are adopted or in foster homes, explaining that,
Inhalants are chosen because they are readily accessible at home or school and the kids typically don’t pay for them. This makes them attractive to kids who want to use drugs. Children in foster care, or adopted at an older age are particularly vulnerable to this behavior. They may have previously lived with drug abuse. They may also be looking for a quick fix to feelings of confusion or anger over being adopted or losing their birth family. Forty-five percent of teens who used inhalants suffer from psychiatric disorders, compared with 29 percent of teens who used other drugs.

WordScrawl touched on the issue in "Oh the Drugs We Will Find". It is not specifically written about inhalants but does feature them prominently, arguing that eliminating products that can be abused may not be as effective as teaching our children good habits. According to Amanda Roberts,
As we outlaw more and more of these minor drugs, our kids turn to other things to get the same buzz. For example, when there was a crack down on drugs in schools there was a surge in inhalants. Children will always be able to get a hold of things that they should not and will find a way to get a high. Spray paint, permanent markers, household cleaners, all these things can be used to get a high. If your child wants to get high, they will find a way to get high! [...]

While it seems very negative of me to give this expression of inevitability, this is truly what I think. As many first time parents soon learn, you cannot baby proof the entire world. The same goes for protecting your tweens and teens, but I know you won’t stop trying. The insistence of parents led my high school to outlaw common inhalants about two years before I entered high school. On the list: Liquid Paper (White Out), permanent markers, paint, and washable markers. It seems outrageous doesn’t it? The key to stopping our kids from abusing drugs is to simply teach them restraint. [...]

“Think out loud” for your children; walk them through your decisions and reasons so that they will take on your style of reasoning. For example, you go to cousin Beth’s wedding. You are served a glass of Champaign and there is an open bar; what do you do? Well, after you finish your Champaign, sit with your child and think with them. Should I get another drink? Well I know I have to work in the morning and I want to be aware enough to enjoy Beth’s wedding, so I think I’ll just have a soda. Walking them through this will help you to take on your good habits.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kim Manlove - A Parent Educating Parents

On February 28th, Hamilton Southeastern Schools presented a parents-only seminar about inhalants and prescription drug abuse in the home. One of the speakers at the meeting was Mr. Kim Manlove, who lost his son David to inhalant abuse.

The community forum went wonderfully, he said. There were about 175 parents present at the meeting. For the section on inhalants, they showed a new video as well as a PowerPoint presentation. Information was provided about the signs and symptoms of inhalant use, the associated paraphernalia, and the physical evidence.

He explained what a revelation it is for parents to realize just how many household and commonly-used products can be abused. “You don’t see parents saying, ‘I had no idea!’ about drugs, cocaine or alcohol,” he continued, “Inhalants are not on their radar screen.”

The questions from parents were varied, from wanting to know what specifically to look for in their child, to wondering what it was that drives kids to 'huff'. Although many believe that their kids are safe, he warns parents that there are products in their houses that have the potential to be abused.

Also speaking was a recovering inhalant abuser, who described his relationship with inhalants and why he used them, and what finally brought him to seek help.

One notable demonstration of Kim's that the audience will remember used a mirror and computer duster to show its potentially hazardous effects. He sprayed the mirror with an upside-down can of computer duster to show the frost that covers it. This revealed how cold the chemical inside can be, in order to further explain that it's not just compressed air. Frostbite around the nose and mouth can be one of the symptoms of abusing computer dusters.

We're glad that Hamilton Southeastern took such a proactive approach in educating the community and hope that more schools reach out in the future.

Kim Manlove also maintains a blog for Parent Partners to spread his prevention message even further.

Press Conference

Media coverage is still going strong today, with several sources throughout the country devoting articles to inhalant abuse after a recent press conference launching NIPAW in Washington DC. Here are the most recent ones:

CBS News: "Tweens Favor Inhalants to Get High: Study shows youngsters use inhalants as a 'gateway' to other drugs"

They also provided statistics from a recent government study of substance abuse in youth.
  • 45% of those who abused inhalants also have psychiatric disorders, compared with 29% who abused other drugs.
  • 12- to 17-year-olds made up 8% of substance abuse treatment admissions in 2006, but they made up nearly half of all admissions who say they used inhalants.
  • 41% of teenage girls admitted to drug treatment centers involved inhalants; 30% of those admitted did not report inhalants.

The article also quoted Dr. H. Westley Clark, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. He says,

"Inhalants are everywhere in the house and garage, and parents often do not realize that the glue and paint are not being used for crafts or science projects,"

According to Clark's prepared statements, "while the data show that often children move away from using inhalants as they grow older, they often move on to other illicit drugs. Inhalants are a health hazard that can damage the brain, heart, liver, or kidneys." Clark warns parents that inhalants can "cause severe damage and even death."

CBS3: Philadelphia also ran a similar story, in "Health: Huffing". They interviewed Jordan Paul, 17, who has had a history of abusing inhalants. He mentioned that,

"Anything I could get my hands on aerosol, gas anything I could find ... It was very easily accessible I didn't have to pay for it. You know, I didn't have to look for it. You know, it was around. It was everywhere."

From HealthDay, in Yahoo News: "For Adolescents, Inhalants Are Drug of Choice". This article also ran in the Washington Post.

dbTechno, in Boston: "Young Teens Using Inhalants As Gateway Drug"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Love Your Child - Be Informed

Thanks to the efforts of Janna Zuber, the sign in front of
Bowie High School in Maryland now displays a message urging parents to visit our main site, http://www.inhalant.org/.


This is just in time for National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, and it would be great for other communities to follow this lead and post something publicly.

Huffing Man Crashes Into Special Ed Bus

A man was charged with three counts of vehicular assault and driving under the influence after he crashed into a special education school bus in Tennessee on Friday. The driver, 20-year-old Justin White, had been huffing before the accident occurred. Two of the students on the bus were taken to the hospital, as well as all four passengers in Justin's car. The bus was making a turn when it was struck from behind, overturning into the intersection. Said one of the officers,
“To be honest with you, when I first got there and saw the magnitude of the damage right there in the front of that car, a lot of times when you’ve got a vehicles with that much damage, you’re looking for a fatality,” said Murfreesboro police Officer Terry Spence.

The inhalant was revealed to be a computer duster, which is by far the most prevalent substance to be abused in accidents such as these.

Other Dangers of Inhalants

Two years ago, tragedy struck a family in Texas after Kaitlyn Vallery drowned in the bathtub. She was found with a can of duster nearby, and passed out after inhaling. After her death, a website called 'Kaitlyn's Promise' was started and currently serves as a memorial and a warning to those who abuse inhalants. From the main page:

Kaitlyn was only 16 years old when she died. She was "dusting" keyboard cleaner in the bathtub when she passed out and drowned. Her mother found her when she went to get her to go to Sonic. Kaitlyn didn't intend to die. She'd just left a voice mail for a friend telling her that she was done doing that stuff and she planned to concentrate on staying clean. She intended to get high one more time, take a bath and go on her merry way. It didn't work out that way. Her friends knew she was dusting but they didn't tell her parents or any other adult. They didn't want Kaitlyn mad at them. Guess what? Kaitlyn's not mad...she's dead.

On Thursday of this week, the Vallery's will be here in Washington DC to spread the message about inhalants to other parents whom they hope will never have to experience what they have gone through.

Media Coverage

National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week is March 16-23 and it appears that several communities around the country are already bringing up this issue.

In Central Maine, the Morning Sentinal published an article called, "In Plain Sight: Kids Getting High On Stuff Found In Most Homes". They featured a 21-year-old named Brian Buzzell II who began using inhalants at age 13. His story is an ominous warning of what dangers can be found with inhalant abuse:


Brian Robert Buzzell II of Waterville has permanent memory loss and slurred speech as a result of huffing.

Now 21, he first used inhalants at 13, while an eighth grader at Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield. He and eight schoolmates bought whipping cream cans at local supermarkets and used them to get high. The cans' pressurized propellent, nitrous oxide (N20), is an intoxicating agent.

They stashed the cans in their backpacks. Between classes, they'd race to the bathroom and huff, Buzzell said.

"I was like a vegetable. When I'd go into my next class, I'd stare out into space. I wouldn't do the work."

Buzzell, who stopped huffing at 19, said while he was getting high he would have sudden nose bleeds, frequent headaches and blurriness in his eyes.

"I could hear something in my head. It felt like my brain cells were dying -- a popping sound. I was 15 when I started noticing memory lapses.

Now, Buzzell said, he will be in the middle of a conversation and forget why he placed the call. "It happens all the time," he said.


His mother, Dawn Buzzell of Fairfield, took him to doctors when his memory problems surfaced, he said.

"A doctor at the emergency room said I was killing my brain cells." Chest X-rays showed his lungs were congested from heavy smoking and huffing.

Withdrawal from inhalant use was difficult, Buzzell said. Symptoms included shakes, cold and sweating, vomiting and diarrhea.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Inhaling or 'Huffing' Legal Products - Lethal Results", parents are warned to keep on the lookout for aerosol products that are disappearing at a suspicious rate. One woman's air conditioner needed repairing often and her whipped cream canisters were emptied. The article also highlights Sgt. Jeff Williams, who describes the warning signs of inhalant abuse in a child.

Elsewhere in Virginia - the News Virginian published an article about "City Teenagers Sniffing Inhalants; Officials at Loss On Prevention". It details the statistics of students in the Waynesboro-Staunton area who are abusing inhalants, as well as questioning how much children should be told about them.

The Voices Newspaper of Connecticut offered information about an upcoming seminar for parents on March 18th that focuses on different drug and alcohol risks to children, as well as information about inhalants.

"The substances we talk about in this program are all available in the house," [Jennifer DeWitt] told Voices. "Inhalants can be found under every kitchen counter, alcohol is available in the fridge, the garage or in the bar and prescription medications are available in the bathroom medicine cabinet."

Lots of time, she said, parents look for signs of illicit drug use, but they're not aware of the dangers to be found at home.

"We give parents and other adults education about what these substances are," she said, "how kids use them to get high, signs to look for that kids are using these substances and specific language to use when talking with them about prevention."

The program will also describe Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome as well as conduct a question and answer session after the forum.

The Tuscaloosa News of Alabama featured a letter to the editor entitled "Educate to Stop 'Huffing'", written by Lois Palecek, the executive director of PRIDE, an organization devoted to keeping kids drug-free. The letter begins,


Dear Editor: If you think 'huffing' is just something the Three Little Pigs had to watch out for, the wolf may come knocking at your door. Huffing, bagging and sniffing are terms for inhalant use, a cheap, legal and easy way that young people in Tuscaloosa get high.Parents are often out of the loop when it comes to inhalants. Children discuss it and practice it: adults stay in the dark.

The week of March 16-23 is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week. PRIDE of Tuscaloosa supports effort to educate parents and young people about this deadly practice.The goal? To take the 'silent' out of this silent epidemic. Most parents know to talk to their kids about marijuana, date rape and drinking because they have enough knowledge about these issues, but inhalants are an informational blind spot.

The letter continues to provide information about PRIDE as well as resources available about inhalant abuse.

NBC 12 in Virginia raised awareness for informational meetings for parents in the article, "Dangers of Inhalants: Prevalent in Middle, High Schools". ABC 3 brought it up as well.

The Associated Press wrote an article called "Inhalant Abuse Target of Groups, Gov't." It listed the statistic collected from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in which students were questioned in 2001 and 2002, and when asked if someone could die from sniffing products like gasoline or hair spray, 68% of students answered 'yes' in 2001 versus only 56% in 2002.

Hopefully March 16-23 will see more create more media and parental awareness about inhalant abuse.

Friday, March 7, 2008

International Inhalant Abuse

In Bangor, Wales, a 23-year-old died on Saturday after sniffing lighter fluid in a friend's car. All of a sudden, he stopped breathing and collapsed. Although he was put on life support, there was nothing that doctors could do. He had an 18-year-old fiancee with whom he had planned on starting a family.

His sister, Emma, reported that "It was the first time he'd ever done it."

This is a sad example of how dangerous inhalant use can be the very first time. Without warning, huffing can be fatal.

Troubling Trend in Gainesville

Gainesville, Florida is reporting an alarming frequency of inhalant arrests this past week. Two men on Saturday were arrested for inhaling amyl nitrate from a bottle. Then, on Wednesday a 23-year-old was arrested for huffing a computer duster. All three were arrested for inhalation of a dangerous substance.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Kentucky and NIPAW

The Bowling Green Daily News, in anticipation of NIPAW (National Inhalant and Poisons Awareness Week), ran a story about inhalant abuse yesterday. In studies, one in four Kentucky youths have tried inhalants at some point in their lives. Amy Hutchinson, the coordinator of the Monroe County Alliance for Inhalant Prevention, stated that
“Right now our goal is to do all we can to educate parents and students about the harmful and even deadly effects the poisons in these products can have on the brain and body. It’s a serious cause for concern that not many people know about. Plus it is considered a ‘gateway’ drug, which means that it often leads to the use of illegal drugs."

On teaching parents about inhalant abuse in their children:
"We encourage parents to educate themselves; to learn what is being used and how these products are being used. They need know what is readily available in their own homes. We also urge them to focus on safety when they talk to their kids. Inhalants are not drugs. They are poisons and toxins and should be described as such. Users can die the first, 10th or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant. Even if they’ve done it before, there is no way to know how the next time will affect them.”
Monroe County is one of two counties in Kentucky that has received federal funding for its willingness to address the problem of inhalant abuse.

Monday, March 3, 2008

String of Inhalant Arrests

Another response to inhalant arrests was printed in the Hendricks County Flyer for Avon, Indiana on Thursday. Last summer, one town had four inhalant incidents and in January, a woman drove her truck into a house while huffing. Liutenant Chuck Parsons explains that inhalant abuse is harder to track, explaining that
"Huffing is very difficult to deal with. Unless you catch them doing it in your presence or if they’re still not in an impaired state, you can’t say they’re doing it. You might have someone that has paint all over their face, but knowing it in your heart and being able to prove it are two totally different things. That’s one of the main reasons that charges and arrests of that nature just don’t happen often."

The article continues to explain the risks and dangers of huffing, including Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This occurs when the heart stops abruptly, and can happen the first or 1000th time one abuses inhalants.

After Sonora Accident

The Union Democrat of California is responding to the incident last week in which a 16-year-old drove under the influence of inhalants and abandoned her car after she crashed into a wall. Several different officials from the area weigh in about inhalant abuse. From the article:
District Attorney Donald Segerstrom said huffing has been around for a long time, but it is something his office only encounters occasionally. He finds it is primarily youth who experiment with huffing.

The crime is charged as a misdemeanor under the influence of drugs or possession of an inhalant with intent to inhale. For juveniles, it carries varying consequences determined on a case-by-case basis.

Aside from trouble with the law, it is "unbelievably dangerous," he warned.

"They are taking their life into their own hands, and no one should be doing that," he said. "There is a reason there are warning signs on those cans."
Hopefully the incident will raise awareness for parents, students, and educators about the dangers of inhalants as well as driving under the influence.