Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Man's Denials Inconsistant With Paint on Face

A 45-year-old man who appears to be the same inhalant user as the offender in the previous article has been charged with inhalation of a harmful chemical substance.

Crestview police officers were called to the RV park on the suspicion of a man huffing paint. They searched the area and saw a man in a lawn chair outside of his trailer. The officer asked if he had been inhaling paint and the man said no.

"However, when the officer approached and shined his flashlight toward the man, he noticed what appeared to be “fresh, gold-colored paint clinging to his nose and cheeks.” The officer also noticed paint in the man’s facial hair.

Under the man’s chair, the officer located a can of spray paint. The man continued to deny that he was huffing paint, but the officer placed him under arrest. "
His wife claims that he has been abusing inhalants for the past year and a half and that he hides it.

"She added that she was unable to stop him because 'he thinks there’s nothing wrong with it.'"

From the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Inhalant User Locked Out of Residence by Wife

The Northwest Florida Daily News ran a story last week about a 45-year-old man who had been kicked out of a trailer in Crestview, Florida. At around 9:00 PM on the 13th, police responded to a call reporting a 'suspicious incident'.

When they arrived, according to the arrest report, the man was
"banging on the door to a camper unit, saying, 'Open the door and let me in.' The officer got out of his car and went to talk to the man. The man said his wife was drunk and would not allow him in the camper and it was his property."
The wife told the officers that the trailer was her sister's and that "she didn’t want her husband inside because he had been “huffing” and she didn’t want him around her."

She also said that her husband had been pushing a broom handle through one of the windows and hit her in the ribs. She showed police officers the corresponding mark on her side.

The man was arrested for domestic violence and battery.

Monday, April 28, 2008

KYDS Survey of Inhalant Use

A recent news story used the statistics found in the 2006 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey from the KYDS Coalition, sponsored by the Broome County Mental Health Department in Binghamton, New York.

The entire survey can be read in the link above, but it is rather long; here are some relevant data points:

Percentages of Students using Inhalants (lifetime):

7th grade

2002: 8.7%
2004: 8.1%
2006: 10.8%
Monitoring the Future survey: n/a

8th grade

2002: 11.0%
2004: 8.9%
2006: 15.2%
Monitoring the Future survey: 17.1%

9th grade

2002: 10.3%
2004: 10.7%
2006: 13.5%
Monitoring the Future survey: n/a

10th grade

2002: 7.6%
2004: 10.2%
2006: 14.6%
Monitoring the Future survey: 13.1%

11th grade

2002: 7.9%
2004: 11.6%
2006: 13.0%
Monitoring the Future survey: n/a

12th grade

2002: 8.4%
2004: 7.6%
2006: 10.5%
Monitoring the Future survey: 11.4%

Total

2002: 9.0%
2004: 9.6%
2006: 13.0%
Monitoring the Future survey: n/a
What are the highlights of this data? Well, there is an increase in every single grade for inhalant usage from 2004 data to 2006. Total inhalant usage jumped from 9.0% to 13.0% in four years.

A lot of people wonder why lifetime inhalant use reporting is higher in eighth grade than it is in other years. If someone reported using inhalants when they were 13, shouldn't they have reported a lifetime inhalant use when they are 18?

I can think of two reasons for why this may happen. First, as students get older, they might minimize the importance of inhalant usage during middle school and not report it as often, or simply forget about it after a few years.

Secondly, many of these surveys are done during school hours. If you have students abusing inhalants in eighth grade, these same students might not have stayed in school all the way until senior year. They may have moved on to other drugs and abandoned their schoolwork. Studies would have to take into account the dropout rate as well.

It will be interesting to see the results of a 2008 study.

Inhalant Use Up in Albany, Georgia

WALB News 10 of Georgia featured a piece on Friday called, 'More kids resort to huffing'. Drug agents in southern Georgia have reported more youths abusing inhalants.

Investigator George Camp describes how easy it is for kids to make:
"Pour a little bit in there. Turn it around. Close it up. Let it sit for a few minutes. Mix it up a little bit so the chemical get in the bag. Open it up, wrap it up, and breathe."

He also says that parents can pick up on the warning signs,
"if you know what to look for. If you see there is a change in mood behavior. If you see there is a change in the way that they dress. The people they hang out with now. That makes a big difference, that should at least ring a bell in your mind as a parent."

The story also describes how

"even innocent items like a Cool Whip can be used, for the aerosol in the can. It's called kiddy dope, because kids as young as eight are doing it, and they can find out all about it on the Internet."

Doctors say many are dying; 22 percent of those who die from huffing are killed the first time they try it."

Malaysian Organization Works to Curb Abuse

In response to trends of inhalant abuse, the Malaysian Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse, or Pemadam, are recruiting experts to study inhalants and create a strategy to inhibit the abuse in students.

Pemadam's general secretary, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, announced that they
"take a serious view of youths including students who sniff glue, petrol and paint as it can harm them."
Also, Pemadam will be organizing an anti-inhalant committee, which will include "academicians, researchers, police and related agencies".

There are going to be nationwide campaigns to raise awareness as well as legislature entitled 'The Intoxicating Substances Act'.

In addition, Ibrahim has "urged producers of glue, paint and petrol to reduce the smell of inhalants as this would help tackle the problem."

Story from Bermana.com, Malaysian National News Agency.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Grand Island Middle School Congress Meets

On Wednesday, we posted a story about Grand Island, Nebraska's concern about inhalant use in students. One of the responses of the school district to the increasing drug usage in their area was to form a Middle School Youth Congress, comprised of eighty-five middle schoolers who went on a retreat to become better educated in topics such as drug awareness and peer pressure.

The Congress seems to have been a great success. Chuck Matson of the Omaha Police Department explained the difference between using drugs to become healthy versus using them to get high. He especially focued on the abuse of inhalants, and discussed the physical harm that can occur to the body with inhalant use.

He also reminded the students that death can occur the first time that anyone tries inhalants.

Story from the Grand Island Independent.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

DUI in Vermont May Include Inhalants, Prescription Drugs

DUI laws may be revised in Vermont as a part of upcoming reforms, and include expanding the legislature to include driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and inhalants.

Currently, only federally regulated drugs are considered when being charged with a DUI. Stuart Scharr, the traffic safety prosecutor for the Vermont Association of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs, argues that, "Right now, if someone took Ambien and got in their car and killed someone, they could not be prosecuted for DUI. That's because it is not a regulated drug."

A potential problem that I could imagine would be the lack of definite proof of inhalant usage. For alcohol and drugs, there are breathalizers and blood tests, but inhalants exit the body in a matter of minutes. Any arrests for inhalants would have to be made on the basis of circumstancial evidence - paint stains on face, strong odor from clothing or mouth, slurred speech, or several empty aerosol cans throughout the car. I wonder if that would be enough to hold up in court.

Story from the Times-Argus. Another of their stories was featured here on the blog a few weeks ago after two young people were caught skipping school and abusing inhalants.

Internet Trends Worrisome in Nebraska

Community leaders in Grand Island, Nebraska are warning parents about the susceptability of children to trends on the internet, specifically YouTube videos advocating mixing prescription drugs and using inhalants.

A drug expert from Omaha, Chuck Matson, agrees that YouTube encourages kids to try inhalants and that "especially in our middle school age category, we're seeing an increase in use and abuse of inhalants."

One of the students from Barr Middle School, Mckenzie Fyfe, described the inhalant use that she encounters in her classmates:
"They inhale paint in art class, and inhale sharpie markers. They do it in school and after school, when the teacher's not looking. Sometimes they do it in the hallway or the bathrooms. It's just not things we should be doing at twelve-years-old."

Grand Island School District received a grant to form a Middle School Youth Congress formed of eighty-five students. The students are on a retreat today learning about drug trends, avoiding pressure, leadership qualities, and making good decisions.

Story from Nebraska.tv.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Three Girls Huff on Bus, Become Ill

In Rhea County, Tennessee, parents are becoming aware of a 'dusting' fad with their kids.

On April 9th, three girls aged 13-15 used a computer duster to get high on the bus on the way to school. Upon arrival, one of the girls began to throw up and was taken to a local medical center. Soon after, the two other girls became nauseous and threw up, and were also taken to the medical center.

The school's Resource Officer investigated and found out what happened. He confiscated the can of computer duster and charged the girls with inhaling the chemical for unlawful purposes amd took them to the Rhea County Juvenile Detention Center.

One of the girls needed to be taken back to the medical center after she was sick again. Judge Jim McKenzie then released the girls to their parents. On the subject of inhaling computer duster, he says that,
"This is the same as huffing propane — we had a kid die of that on the mountain a while back—gasoline, markers, White Out, anything like that. They are all against the law and most of them can kill you.”

He also suggested that parents keep an eye out for warning signs in their children, such as having multiple cans of computer duster or odd smells on their breath or clothes.
“I’d encourage parents to check their kids’ backpacks every day regardless of their age. If they find Dust-Off or glue or spray paint or a bunch of Magic Markers, they should call my office or the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department so we can get them some help.”

Story from The Herald-News.

R.O.C.K Against Inhalants

A Christian organization based in Ohio named R.O.C.K (Reclaim Our Community Kids) sponsored Drug Update 2008 to inform parents about the drugs that their children are using.

The Rev. Ralph Edwards agreed with other speakers present that the younger that a child is when he begins using drugs, the more likely he is to become addicted. Edwards encouraged parents to,
"spend time with them and know what they’re doing. It makes a difference. It’s not that addiction is anything new, but it’s getting to our kids earlier and earlier, younger and younger. There are more and more kids who just don’t get that they can die from it.”

A police officer from Beaver Township, Brian Hartman, was one of the presenters at the meeting. He focused on describing inhalants and their increasing appeal towards younger children: “We’re talking fourth-graders, even younger. They have easy access to these products in their own homes, at school, all around them, and many of them are using them.”

Article found at Vindy.com.

ACE and Rock Cats

OurSportsNetwork.com just posted the story that the Alliance for Consumer Education and the New Britain Rock Cats are joining forces to promote an anti-inhalant message to kids and their families throughout the baseball season.

The Rock Cats are the AA Eastern League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the manager John Willi has said that,

"We in New Britain are in awe of the work being done by the Alliance to address the important issue of inhalant abuse. The Rock Cats can provide ACE an ideal venue to reach families in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts and help to positively impact their lives."
Some of the features of this partnership include:

  • Inhalant Abuse Awareness Night at the New Britain Stadium is being held on May 17th. The Rock Cats will be playing against the Portland Sea Dogs.
  • ACE will distribute hats with the Rock Cats logo to the first 1,500 fans ages 12 and under.
  • ACE members will be at the game to discuss inhalant abuse with parents and kids.
  • Brochures will be available at all home games throughout the season.
  • Public Service Announcements about inhalant abuse will run and use minor league baseball players to explain the dangers of huffing.
  • The Rock Cats are holding an essay contest for kids 17 and younger asking them to write about why people should avoid using inhalants.
  • The winners of this contest will meet the Rock Cats Players, be recognized on the field, and throw out the first pitch of the game.

We're very excited about this partnership and can't wait until game day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Community Warning About Inhalants

Parents in Montezuma County, Colorado are being warned of the dangers of inhalants for their teens, especially in using computer dusters.

One concerned parent in the area who wished to remain anonymous said that her daughter had been involved in a car crash after she drove after huffing computer duster. The duster caused her to lose consciousness and the car went out of control. Her daughter does not remember any of the accident.

“She was out of her mind,” the mother said. “I did not know that kids were doing this.”

The mother said her daughter had heard of the practice when watching a movie called “Thirteen.” She reported that her daughter knows at least 15 other teenagers offhand who are using Dust-Off or a product like it to get high, and that her other middle school-aged daughter had also heard about numerous students using compressed air as an inhalant.

Before her daughter had the car accident, the mother had never heard of using this product as a drug, she said.

“I feel like, the kids know about it but I don’t think the parents know about it,” she said.

Diane Fox, the Montezuma-Cortez High School Resource Officer, says "I’m not naive enough to think that it’s not happening, just because we're not catching it a lot.”

Retailers around the community have already placed some restrictions on computer dusters, such as Wal-Mart, which,

"does not carry the product branded as Dust-Off, but the similar product that they do carry for dusting off computers has an age restriction on it," said Ashley Hardie, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart.

When the product is scanned at the register, the cashier is prompted to ensure the person purchasing the product is over 18.

However, according to the mother of the girl who drove while under the influence of inhalants,
her daughter

"obtained compressed air from Wal-Mart, but said the teen and her friend stole the product, knowing that they could not legally buy it from the store."

Taylor, the Mancos counselor, said locking the product behind a secure area might be a more effective way of keeping it away from teens.

Would this be as effective as Taylor believes? If the computer dusters were locked away at Wal-Mart, either teens could ask an 18-year-old friend to buy it for them, or they could stop by another office supply store without the restrictions. Or, they may settle for a different kind of inhalant.

Story courtesy of Stephanie Paige Ogburn, of the Cortez Journal.

Teen Found Not Guilty

19-year-old Tristian Beckett was declared not guilty of manslaughter after his friend Thomas Hillman died in an explosion. The two friends along with several others were huffing LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in a car when Beckett lit a lighter, setting the gas fumes on fire.


Thomas was in the backseat and died of respiratory problems.

As part of his testimony, Tristian claimed that,
it never occurred to him the gas might be a danger when he flicked the lighter as the group had not huffed the gas for 10 minutes and he could not smell gas.

Fire safety officer Paul Wigzell said it only took a 2% to 3 % ratio of LPG to air for the gas to combust.

Read more about the story in an earlier post.

The photo above is from stuff.co.nz.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Keeping Parents Educated

The News Transcript of New Jersey printed a letter to the editor a while ago reminding readers of the dangers of inhalants. "Parents remain out of the loop on inhalant abuse" was written by Mary Pat Angelini.

She quotes the National Institute on Drug Abuse's 'Monitoring the Future Survey', saying that,

"A recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that 95 percent of parents believe their child has never used inhalants. Yet, almost one in five eighth-graders has intentionally inhaled everyday office, school and household products at the risk of brain damage and even death."


Ms. Angelini is the Executive Director and CEO of Prevention First Ocean Township and urges parents to contact her and receive a free copy of "A Parents Guide to Preventing Inhalant Abuse".

Parents not from the New Jersey area are reminded that the Alliance for Consumer Education has many resources on the main inhalant site, http://www.inhalant.org/.

Singapore Inhalant Abuse

There are worrisome trends internationally as of late. On Friday, The Earth Times published an article called "Glue-Sniffing Making a Comeback in Singapore". According to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), the number of inhalant problems have risen from 120 in 2005 to 644 in 2007, a jump of nearly five and half times in just two years.

Other statistics provided are causing alarm: seven in ten caught were under 20 years old, and four out of five were male. 65% were still in school.

According to S. Vijakumar, the CNB deputy director, the three most common reasons for abusing glue are boredom, peer pressure, and curiosity.

Glue sniffing has been a problem in the past, spiking in 1987 when 1,112 abusers were caught. According to TODAYonline, the Intoxicating Substances Act was passed in retaliation and caused the 18-year decline.

The consquences for sniffing glue can be six months of jail time and a maximum fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars ($2,700). An alternative sentence is six months of CNB counselling.

Inhalant Ordinance Drafted

Inhalants are obviously becoming a trouble in the Philippines, as the province of Ilocos Norte has drafted an ordinance to restrict the sale of any inhalants to minors. Here is one of the main stipulations:

"Any person or establishment engaged in the selling of inhalants shall require their customers to present their business permits or any other appropriate identification before being allowed to purchase such inhalant, Provided, that, minors may be allowed to purchase said products when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, Provided, further, proper logging and recording shall be done by the establishment upon purchase, showing the name and address of the buyer and quantity of purchase."

Penalties:
"Any person or establishment violating this ordinance shall be imposed with the following penalties, upon the discretion of the courts:

1st Offense - a fine of PhP 1,000.00 (~$25)
2nd Offense - a fine of PhP 2,500.00 (~$60) and
3rd and any - a fine of PhP 5,000 (~$120) and cancellation of Governor's Succeeding Permit."
Do you think that restricting the sale of inhalants in a similar manner to liquor and tobacco will help curb underage inhalant abuse? Inhalants are so widely used that it seems that one could abuse them for years without ever having to set foot in a store.

Plus, this bill may not do as much for adult inhalant abusers, unless there were repercussions involved with buying too many cans. Is it worth the legislation and inconvenience for the possible gains?

Recovering Inhalant Abuser Talks

WSBT2 of South Bend, Indiana posted "Recovering Addicts Warn About Inhalant Abuse Among Teens" last month, and it contains a harrowing story from a former inhalant user, 17-year-old Jordan Paul. He described how how he would indiscriminately inhale "anything I could get my hands on, aerosol, gas — anything I could find."

He progressed from inhalants to cocaine, LSD, and ecstacy, and remembers one of his lowest points:

"I took all my friends and I opened up the door to my parents’ room and said, ‘Anything you can find that’s worth money you can take it,’ and just sold it all because that's how desperate I was."


He eventually overdosed on drugs and was checked into the hospital. He has now been clean for 13 months.

Monday, April 14, 2008

19-Year-Old Charged With Death of Friend

A sad case of inhalant-related death has led to a trial in Blenheim, New Zealand beginning today. Tristian Beckett, 19, is charged with the manslaughter of his friend, Thomas Hillman, 18, back in October of 2006.

The two teenagers along with three friends were in a two-door car inhaling LPG, or liquid petroleum gas. They were passing around the canister when Tristian flicked a lighter, causing an explosion.

Glenn Marshall, the prosecuter, was quoted in One News describing the incident:

"Blue flame rolled around the ceiling of the vehicle. All the occupants panicked and you can imagine that there was pandemonium in the vehicle at the time with people screaming trying to get out of the car."


Crystal River, the owner of the car, said that they had been joking about the risks of dying and what they would do if one of them got into trouble,

"Then we were talking about lighting (cigarette) lighters and Thomas had his huff and Tristian flicked the lighter."

She cried when she talked about the explosion and getting out of the car. Thomas Hillman had been sitting behind her. She said,"I didn't pop the seat," and that she saw Tristian pulling Thomas out of the car. After that, she witnessed Tristian returning to the car for the LPG bottle, turning it off, and taking it down the street.

Alixandria Hilliard, another passenger, thought she remembered Thomas "partly walking beside the accused and being partly dragged to safety," while making grunting noises.

The court is trying to prove whether or not flicking the lighter went beyond carelessness into gross negligence.

Inhalant Use at WebMD

WebMD, one of the most trusted online medical sites, has recently added an article using data from a governmental report released in March to warn parents about the prevelance of inhalant abuse among youth.

We're glad to see inhalants featured by such a reputable source.

Inhalant Abuse Popular on Street

The Narconon Program of Atlanta, Georgia was featured in TransWorldNews today for their work with reducing inhalant use amongst homeless youth in cities worldwide. They describe the conditions of life on the street and the appeal of inhalants, explaining that,

"One way to stave off hunger pains, and help them forget where they are, is to take drugs. While many children, who can be as young as 5 years old, may drink alcohol, smoke weed, or do other hard drugs, the majority prefer to “fly,” huffing glue.

Yes, glue. Glue made to repair shoes is the drug of choice for these homeless children. For a few pennies, which they can always beg, or steal (borrowing is not in their vocabulary), the pain brought on by hunger, heat, cold, or the simple fact that they were abandoned, can be alleviated by huffing.

Give them an empty soda bottle, or a plastic bag, a few pennies worth of shoe glue, called “Resistol” (trademark) in Latin America, and they can forget. Be happy. Sleep."

They have several initiatives in place in order to combat this trend, such as an orphanage in Honduras, which

"has been getting kids off the streets and into a safe environment through dedication of their staff and with the help of Narconon Drug Rehab and other Atlanta charity groups.

Narconon of Georgia helped a Honduran medical doctor establish the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program in this orphanage to aid in the growing epidemic of addicted street orphans in their country.

The sauna program had astounding results with the children and has been praised by the Dr. Vega as being beneficial to the children in their drug rehab efforts."

One of the counselors at the orphanage stated that,

"The children arrive here and behave like little animals. They have no moral code, won't listen to anyone, run wild. However, the Narconon Sauna Program removes the toxins from their bodies and they become happier, more social, like little children again. They become social people."

Mary Rieser, Narcanon's Executive Director, says that

“Narconon of Georgia staff have a special place in their heart for children. It is one thing to admit a full grown adult into drug rehab, but to see a young child passed out in the streets because they are drunk or high is very sad. These children have no hope unless we do something about it.”

There is also a video available with the article that further explains these issues.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Does Huffing and Driving Count as a DUI?

Lawmakers in Tennessee are working to treat driving under the influence of inhalants the same as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police officers cite a recent case of a man crashing into a bus after inhaling duster.

There has been some confusion over whether or not driving after inhaling should count as a DUI or not.

Oak Ridge Republican Randy McNally says, "I guess there's a question on whether it's actually a drug or not, and this would make it crystal clear that it also includes inhalants that alter the nervous system."

McNally would also like for officers to note when inhalants were involved in a DUI arrest in order to gather data on inhalants' prevalence. He says that if the bill is passed and inhalants are proven to be commonly used, it may push the legislature to help curb the use.

Driving under the influence of an inhalant is by no means a rare occurence, and has been featured in this blog several times:

Huffing, Puffing, and Driving
Huffing Man Crashes Into Special Ed Bus
After Sonora Accident
Woman Hit By Huffing Driver
Arrest for DUI, Hit and Run
Inhalants and Driving
Police Against Drugged Driving
Driving Under the Influence (three stories)
Driver Arrested After Two Collisions

These all took place within the last two months.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Youth Inhaling in Vermont

The Times Argus of Vermont reported yesterday that two juveniles from Barre were caught inhaling from an aerosol can around 3:00 PM on Monday. One of them had to be hospitalized as a result of the inhalant.

We haven't been able to gather more details but will post any updated information.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Inhalant Brochures at Giant

We visited Giant store #0378 at Tivoli Square in Washington DC and were pleased to see that our brochures were still being prominently displayed on their pharmacy counter.


They were featured at both Giant and Stop & Shop pharmacies in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast areas during NIPAW, March 16th-23rd. They feature advice for parents about inhalants as well as tips on how to talk to your children.

Has anyone in these regions spotted the brochures at your pharmacy? Take a picture, send it to us, and we'll be happy to post it here on the blog.

Duster Death in South Florida

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel ran a story today about Jason Emanuel, who died in February after inhaling computer duster.

He was originally from North Carolina and was arrested twice in December in Boynton Beach, Florida for huffing in his car outside of Wal-Mart. Soon after, he was arrested for huffing outside of a SuperTarget. The police reported him as being "unsteady on his feet" and "incoherent".

Jason had been kicked out of a drug rehabilitation halfway house a few days before his death on February 26th. He lived out of his car for three days until the police were called to a Wal-Mart where Jason told the officers that he had been huffing.

On the way to the hospital, he had a seizure and stopped breathing.

He was from an upper middle-class background and was educated in private schools. He studied at Appalachian State University before dropping out to seek treatment for his drug problems.

His father Chris said, "Jason was not a criminal. He wasn't a guy that would stick up the 7-Eleven. He had a problem and eventually it defeated him."

Chris also mentioned how Jason progressed from using marijuana to using inhalants, explaining,

"He got off marijuana because he didn't like finding dealers. You can go to any place and find an inhalant."
Jason's longtime friend Elliot mentioned,
"He just didn't act like someone who was a drug addict. With my generation, people get so concerned with drugs you hear about in pop culture. That's really not the problem. It's the prescription drugs and the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart."
ACE's executive director Colleen Creighton was quoted in the article talking about the prevalence of inhalants.
"You see kids on YouTube joking around, laughing and having fun, and the risk really isn't conveyed. The frightening thing for us is how young the kids are who are using."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Woman Arrested Twice for Inhaling Duster

A woman in Naples, Florida has been arrested for the second time in a week for inhaling dust remover.

On March 28th, Niki Jo Mortenson was arrested after being found unresponsive in her bedroom. A sheriff's deputy said that inside the room was a mist so thick that it made it difficult to breathe and burned his eyes. When officers asked what she was doing, she took a can of Dust-Off and sprayed it into her mouth.

Last Wednesday, police responded to a call of a suspicious person at a local Marriott Fairfield Inn. When they arrived, Mortenson was on the ground, crying hysterically and holding on to a palm tree.

According to the police,

"Mortenson told the officers she didn’t know where she was or how she got there. Before paramedics arrived, Mortenson grabbed one of the cans, brought it to her mouth and attempted to inhale the dust remover.

One of the officers grabbed the can from her hand, then began picking up the other six cans, which made Mortenson upset.


Five of the seven cans were completely empty, reports said, one was full, and the one Mortenson had in her hand was partially full.

Mortenson was transported to NCH Downtown Naples Hospital, where she was treated and released.

She was then arrested."


From naplesnews.com.

Friday, April 4, 2008

3rd Grader Suspended for Sniffing Marker

8-year-old Eathen Harris of Colorado was initially suspended for three days after sniffing a stripe of Magic Marker off of his shirt repeatedly even after a teacher told him to stop.


The punishment was reduced to one day of suspension, but Eathen's parents believe this is still too harsh. They argue that the school,

"automatically assumed that he was huffing a marker. He is in third grade, he's 8 years old. And I think that's a ridiculous assumption.”

The prinicipal, Christopher Benisch, stands by the disciplinary action. He says that they,

"really want to send a clear message to that student and the other students that we're responsible for that. This is a real true danger.”

Was this punishment too harsh? Do you think that the 8-year-old was inhaling the marker intentionally or just trying to be funny? What other options could the school have explored besides suspension?

Mayor and Governor Inhale Helium, Set Bad Example

During the filming of a promotional ad for the KUSA Channel 9 Health Fair, a community project in Denver, both Mayor Hickenlooper and the Governor Ritter were featured holding balloons and talking in high, squeaky voices - the implication being that they had inhaled the helium.



Viewers called the station, saying that it was inappropriate for elected officials to be huffing anything, even helium. After a week of complaints, the footage was cut from the commercials.

While helium is not an inhalant, there are serious risks involved with its inhalation. A common problem is the lack of oxygen exchange, which can cause dizziness and even unconsciousness. This can result in stumbling or falling into something dangerous.

If a child or adult inhales helium from a tank, there can be more serious injuries involving the lungs. In general, avoid both tanks and balloons.

Man Sentenced to Six Months

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio featured a story yesterday about a 42-year-old man who was sentenced to 6 months in jail after being caught inhaling paint thinner. The police officers say that the man could not remember his name when questioned and a witness had seen him huffing. He had a previous record for abusing harmful intoxicants.

Similar to the story from yesterday's news, it would be interesting to find out how many times he had been arrested for inhalant abuse in the past.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Paint Sniffing Arrests Lead to Jail Time

A 57-year-old homeless man described as a 'courtroom fixture' due to his multiple paint sniffing arrests was sentenced to nine months in jail yesterday for assaulting a Hooters manager, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Paul Vandiver lives under the bridge next to Hooters and had been arrested most recently in December, February, and March for paint huffing. Judge Bob Moon estimated that he had seen the man in court over fifty times for inhalant charges alone. The Assistant District Attorney described him as "one of the revolving door types."

Because of his past criminal behavior, Judge Moon sentenced him to nine months in jail.

According to account of the Hooters manager, Candace Barnes,

Mr. Vandiver walks into Hooters every day and asks for a free cup of coffee. On Sunday, Ms. Barnes said the defendant got upset when she told him the coffee maker was broken. According to Ms. Barnes, he grabbed her hair and pulled her head downward, causing her to seek medical treatment for a strained neck.


“I’ve always been nice to him,” Ms. Barnes said of the homeless man. “Usually if I give him coffee he goes away. I hope he stays away now.”


The Times promises full coverage of the story tomorrow.

This story elicits a good point about addiction and the homeless - are they more prone to inhalant abuse? The same reasons that youth are attracted to them (little to no cost, not illegal to possess, can be found everywhere) may also be a draw to those in disadvantaged circumstances.

Also, the fact that this man had been through the court system dozens of times for huffing-related offenses raises the question of the effectiveness of anti-inhalant laws and whether or not they are acheiving their desired goals.

Update: According to the April 4th story, the 9 month sentence will stand. Mr. Vandiver is also forbidden from visiting that particular Hooters in the future.

Poster Contest Winners

The poster contest sponsored by The Prevention and Early Intervention Advisory Community Empowerment (PEACE), Youth for Youth LIVE! Guam, the Get Healthy Guam Commission, and the Marianas Variety ended on March 28th. The organizations received almost 150 submissions from both the high school and the middle school level. The judging criteria were creativity, boldness, originality, memorability, and attractiveness to teens.

All of the winners' posters will be displayed at the Youth for Youth conference and the E.C. does it! Health Fest on April 27th. The first place winners will receive a scholarship to attend the Youth for Youth conference.

Here are the top results in each category:

High School

First Place: Merlyn A. Pama, George Washington High School






Second Place: Maria Raposa, Simon Sanchez High School






Third Place: Kevin Marquez, Simon Sanchez High School







Middle School:


First Place: Angelica Clark, Jose Rios Middle School







Second Place: Hanna Taimanglo, Jose Rios Middle School












Congratulations to the winners and good luck at the conference!

SAFE Education in Virginia

The Chesterfield Observer of Chesterfield County, Virginia printed a front-page story about inhalant use yesterday. Virginia as a state as well as this particular region have been at the forefront of raising awareness about inhalants. SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) is piloting programs in Carver, Swift Creek, and Salem Church middle schools. Sharyl Adams, SAFE's substance abuse prevention specialist, says that,

"If we hadn't gotten the survey results showing that we were twice the national average regarding inhalant abuse, quite frankly, we wouldn't be doing this."

Carver Middle School held the SAFE workshop in April, and Principal Don Ashburn recognized the immediate impact that it had on teachers:
"There was a bit of shock and ah-ha moments for our teachers. It was like seeing the piece of a puzzle come together. Sometimes in the past, teachers have seen a child with declining grades. They've made contact with the parents, the parents have conducted drugtesting and then you have this training and you go 'okay, it's clear to me now'" in realizing that inhalant abuse might just be the cause."

The article also mentioned SAFE's sponsorship of Sgt. Jeff Williams, along with his message of,
"Teachers, parents say, 'Don't tell the kids because then they'll try it.' My message is they already know, so we have to talk with our kids about it."

In addition, several good tips were presented at the end of the article, such as -
Tips for Educating Your Child:

Beginning at an early age, talk about poison prevention and product safety.
• Read labels with your child and teach him/her how to do so.
• Talk to him/her about the serious effects of abusing products.
• Reinforce peer resistance skills and practice these with your child.
• Highlight that inhalants are poisons rather than drugs.

As well as:
Long-term effects of inhalant use:

• Memory loss
• Impaired vision
• Loss of coordination
• Slurred speech
• Reduced lung function
• Bone marrow damage
• Muscle weakness
• Depression
• Dementia

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nitrous Oxide Stolen

Shackfords store in Napa, California was broken into by vandals targeting cartridges of nitrous oxide, commonly used in whipped cream canisters. They had attempted to enter the store on two previous occasions, one successfully. The cartridges were the only things stolen.

Retailers should be aware of the demand for abusable inhalants and take precautions so that their merchandise is not depleted.

Inhalant Prevention Guide

The Virginia Department of Education recently promoted their booklet entitled "Inhalant Abuse Prevention: Staff Education and Student Curriculum" at the Inhalant Abuse Prevention Awareness Institute on March 12th in Staunton, VA.




This incredible resource highlights reasons for abuse, principles for abuse prevention, activities for classes, and many, many more topics. The photo to the left shows the guide being displayed by Arlene Cundriff, the coordinator the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, part of the Virginia Department of Education.