Friday, May 30, 2008

ACE Landmark

The Alliance for Consumer Education is eight years old today! Founded in 2000, ACE has achieved many goals and provided information on inhalant abuse to countless parents and educators. Have you checked out inhalant.org, or our Message Board? You can read the questions that others have or post one yourself.

Today also marks my last day here as an intern at ACE. It's been a wonderful place to work and I've loved keeping people informed about the most recent news of inhalants. Thanks for visiting!

Survey in Erie Shows Inhalant Use Up

The Civic Institute and Erie County Health Department in Pennsylvania just released the results of a county-wide survey of middle and high schoolers yesterday.

The creators of the study were concerned about accurate results, so Amy Eisert, the director of the Civic Institute, came up with a solution: "We included trick questions in the survey. One of them was that we listed a make-believe drug and asked students if they ever used it. If they said yes, we tossed out their survey."

Some highlights:

  • The number of students who gambled in the last year was down, from 35% two years ago to 29%.
  • Students who smoked in the last thirty days declined from 12.4% to 11.5%.
  • Binge drinking and marijuana usage also decreased.

However, inhalant usage increased 1%.

The superintendent of Erie Schools, Jim Barker, was not surprised.

He says that the survey "mirrors what's happening in the state and across the nation," and that the report presented "clear reasons why schools, community agencies and parents have to work together" to prevent students from using drugs or alcohol.

Charlotte Berringer, the director of community health for the county Health Department, believes that "reports like this are invaluable because agencies who apply for funding need to show good, hard data. This report will help us put in evidence-based programming to deal with some of these issues."

Hopefully inhalant abuse will be addressed and more education provided in Erie County schools.

From GoErie.com.

Man Huffs, Hits Guardrails, Crashes Into House

A man who admitted to using inhalants with several duster cans in his vehicle was arrested yesterday in Springfield, Missouri.

Around 4:30 PM, the unnamed driver "hit guardrails before crossing into oncoming traffic, hitting fences and then a house", say witnesses.

Trooper Scott Mease of the Missouri Highway Patrol claims that "he definitely damaged two properties. Extensive damage. Looks like it's been moved off the foundation a little bit and the car did penetrate all the way into the house. It's pretty bad."

Luckily, no one inside the house was injured and the driver only suffered a broken leg. No charges have been filed yet but there is a possibility that he will be looking at a DWI.

Story from OzarksFirst.com.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inhalants Included in Police Talk

Kids at a school in Orillia, Canada were taught about inhalants during an anti-drug and gang demonstration last week.

After learning about gang violence, 7th and 8th graders watched a video that began by talking about marijuana and tobacco, but led into stimulants, pills, performance-enhancing drugs, and inhalants.

An 8th grader, Angelique Garner, expressed surprise over some of the information she learned. "It's pretty crazy to know you can die from your first take of (an inhalant). I can't imagine getting involved with that."

The students also watched videos that featured the friends and family members of drug users who had died as a result of their addictions, as well as former users themselves.

The program will be moving on to a different high school next week. Police expect 450 students to attend.

Glue Addiction in South Africa

More stories about South African inhalant abuse have been finding their way into the media, with the latest one being in iol.co.za, an online news source for South Africa.

The author paints a vivid picture of a child with an addiction to glue, and a few coins are "all it costs to buy a bottle of viscous orange glue from an "auntie" who makes her living peddling deformity and death as though she were a legitimate businesswoman."

There are also quotes from children who use glue as an escape:

"My mother threw me away when I was a baby. I was found by social welfare, but there was no one who loved me. They put me with a foster mother, but she only took children for the grant. I ran to the streets when I was nine years old.

The glue helps me when I am feeling sad that my mother did not want her own child. When I have some money I go to the aunties with the glue. They buy big drums and then put it in the bottles. They come on the taxis with the glue. The police do not worry because you can buy glue if you like. It is not against the law." - Siphiso, 15.


In South Africa, glue is the most abused inhalant, with three main varieties:
"Neoprene, SS Neoprene and an unnamed, dark orange glue that is the most toxic. All three have a high level of a neurotoxic chemical called toluene. When inhaled, usually from a small glass bottle, often concealed in an empty milk or cold drink carton, the fumes are highly addictive, and the effects nearly instantaneous."

There are no regulations on the sale or abuse of glue. Joseph Nandwa, a Undungu field officer, says that "anyone who sells an inhalant to a minor, knowing that it will be abused, is subject to three years in prison. But there has not been a single recorded arrest."

One particularly sad section reads as follows:

"David followed the routine practised by thousands of homeless children in Nairobi each day. He took out a handkerchief, dipped it into a tin of paint thinner, put it to his nose and inhaled deeply.

Asked what he was doing, David replied: "Dinner". David was sniffing paint-thinner to suppress his hunger and ward off the cold."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Inhalant Use Common in South Africa

Health24.com posted a story the other day that describes the harrowing problems of inhalants in South Africa. The article jumps right into the heart of the subject, beginning by saying that,
"it’s a common sight to see street children sniffing glue from a plastic bag. Just a whiff as you pass by is enough to make you dizzy. Street children are not the only ones sniffing inhalants - it is becoming a dangerous practice among teens of all ages and across social classes."
Then, information about inhalants in the United States was presented:
  • 1.1 million teens admitted to using inhalants last year
  • 600,000 teens start using inhalants each year
  • Teens believe that using inhalants are not as dangerous as taking illegal drugs

Although the reported statistics on inhalant abuse in South Africa are low, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence believe this to be because many of the users are 'off the grid', being homeless or not willing to go to a treatment center for help.

Carry Bekker of the Stepping Stones Addiction Centre calls inhalant abuse "very prevalent amongst street children" and fairly prevalent among the lower socio-economic groups. He also explains that inhalants are mainly used by adolescents and younger.

The article continues to describe the effects of abusing inhalants:

"When the vapours are inhaled, the body becomes starved of oxygen which forces the heart to beat faster to increase blood flow to the brain. The high begins a few seconds after inhalation and can include dizziness, slurred speech, lack of co-ordination, hallucinations and delusions. The high only lasts for a few minutes and users inhale repeatedly to stay high."

In addition, the health hazards are outlined:

  • Chronic use can lead to brain damage or nerve damage, damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
  • Extended use can also affect thinking, vision, hearing and movement.
  • Sniffing inhalants can also lead to heart failure and death. Heart failure is caused by chemicals interfering with the heart’s regulating system, which could cause the heart to stop beating.
  • High concentrations of inhalants also cause death from asphyxiation, suffocation, convulsions, seizure, coma, choking or fatal injury from accidents.

The effects of specific inhalants:

  • Toulene – found in spray paint, glue, nail polish - can cause hearing loss, spinal cord or brain damage and liver and kidney failure.
  • Trichloroethylene – found in correction and cleaning fluids - can cause hearing loss and liver and kidney failure.
  • Hexane – found in glue and petrol - can cause limb spasm and liver and kidney failure.
  • Nitrous oxide – found in whipped cream dispensers and gas cylinders - can cause limb spasm and blackouts.
  • Benzene – found in petrol - can cause bone marrow damage.

The article also describes Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrom (SSDS):

"It is the most common cause of death among regular inhalant abusers. A victim may be trying it for the first time, or could be a frequent user. According to studies 22% of inhalant abusers who die of SSDS are first-time users.

SSDS happens when a user gets surprised or shocked while sniffing or huffing. This often happens when the user is caught sniffing. An exciting or scary hallucination can also trigger SSDS. When the user is surprised or shocked, a sudden flow of epinephrine (adrenaline) is released. Epinephrine helps to regulate the functions of the body such as the heart rate.

When a person is highly stimulated by fear or a confrontation, further amounts of epinephrine are released into the bloodstream to prepare the body for action. Blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac activity increases. Because of the presence of inhalants in the body, the heart muscle is more sensitive to epinephrine, and when it reaches the heart, it suffers an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia). Within seconds the user can be killed."

How can you help?

  • Speak about the dangers of inhalant abuse to your child
  • Be aware of products that can be abused
  • Keep an eye on all potentially dangerous products in your home
  • If you suspect someone is abusing inhalants, encourage the person to seek professional help

Is Your Child in Trouble?

This article from the American Chronicle by Genae-Valecia Hinesman lists and details several signs that parents should watch out for, as they may indicate problems in your child's life. Many of these signals are also applicable for inhalant abuse, but this is a great article to read for any parent.

1. Erratic Behavior
"As young people carve out their own individuality separate from that of their parents´, and seek an answer to the proverbial question, "Who AM I?" they could clash more frequently with those around them. They may be happy one minute and sullen the next. Even this is normal. However, if your child starts reacting violently, either at home or at school, clearly something is seriously wrong."

2. Loss of Coordination, Glazed Eyes, Slurred Speech

"Without question, only two things can explain these symptoms. The first is that the person in question has suffered a stroke or a seizure. The second is that this person is inebriated. Both situations require immediate action. If your child is intoxicated, your first duty is to keep them from leaving the house until sober, for their own safety and the safety of others.

Once they are coherent, find out what they were taking and where they obtained it. If they were found unconscious, and taken to a hospital, medical testing will be able to provide a toxicology report. Encourage them to seek help, if addicted, and at least undergo counseling to learn how to avoid future dependency. Help in any way you can, but let them know that they must want to help themselves, in order to successfully change for the better."


3. Persistant Sadness and Withdrawel from Others
"Any child showing these signs for more than two weeks without interruption is clearly depressed. A change in eating habits and/or grooming has probably also been noticed. If so, something, or a combination of things, has triggered these changes. Your job is to find out what."

4. Honor Student to Dropout

"If your consistently top-notch student suddenly loses interest in school with grades in two or more classes plummeting, take heed! Straight A´s simply don´t turn into D´s overnight. Sit down with him or her and find out what´s happening in your child´s life.

Whatever it happens to be, let him or her know that you´re willing not only to help, but to listen as well. Refuse to accept "Leave me alone!" or "Nothing!" as acceptable answers. If they won´t talk to you, find another trusted adult with whom they will talk. Seek professional help if they need it."


5. Drastic Social Changes
"Friends and companions can and sometimes should, change a bit by the time your child leaves high school. Nevertheless, if your child´s associates suddenly are vastly different in negative ways from those they used to spend time with, this is usually a very bad sign. It´s even more telling if they now avoid or shun their old friends for no readily apparent reason."

6. Finding Unusual Possessions

"Discovering drugs, whether prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal narcotics that you had no idea that your child was using calls for immediate address. The same can be said for condoms, birth control devices, cigarettes, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia of any kind.

Recently, even glue, industrial products, and cleaning supplies have been used as inhalants (known among teens as "huffing") by kids seeking to get "high"-- often with fatal results. Finding these in your child´s room, pockets, or belongings is just as serious as finding a weapon. More than a red flag, this is a screaming siren!"


7. Legal Troubles

"Finally, if your child has been arrested at least once, this is clear indication that the situation is rapidly careening beyond the scope of your reach. By the time law enforcement becomes involved two or more times, your child has become society´s problem and the courts will soon decide his or her future.

Repeated run-ins with legal authorities can never be overlooked as "just a phase". There may still be hope, but only if drastic measures are taken and your child still cares enough to save himself or herself. Only so many chances are given to legal offenders. Don´t let time run out. Intervene while you still can."


These are all excellent points and can be of help to parents who ask, "is my kid abusing inhalants?" The warning signs are often subtle, but they are there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Understanding Your Teen

Jonathan Tucker of San Diego, CA has taken it upon himself to educate parents about a range of problems that their children may be having with peers and drugs. His goal, he says, is simple:
"I help parents of teens
better understand their teens
through actual teen insight
into the world of teens"

He began his website, understandmyteen.com, after his friend died from an overdose of Oxycotin. He uses his site as well as an updated blog to help parents talk to their teens about drugs.

The site and blog may not be specifically about inhalant abuse, but there are many helpful ideas that can apply to a range of issues that parents have with their teenagers.

Recently, he has written about how important it is for teenagers to be involved with extracurricular activities, and provides examples of different organizations that are teen-friendly.

In addition, he brings up how to talk to your kids, mentioning that,

"having a conversation about a touchy subject like drugs is hard for any teen and parent. However, it’s a conversation that needs to happen…it’s important that your teen realize the dangers of drug use and how it can tear lives apart.

Having a productive and effective conversation about drugs with your teen is very important. I would suggest ‘breaking the ice’ by having some comedic or funny beginning to the conversation.

Show the teen a funny video or movie scene related to drugs

Tell the teen a story you heard about someone doing something ridiculous when they were ‘high’

Think of any way to make the conversation start off as funny…this will help your teen open up to you.

Understand that I’m not trying to suggest that drug use is funny…not at all! Instead, I’m telling you how to strategically start a conversation about this touchy subject with your teen so that they’ll actually listen to you.

If the conversation starts off awkward, your teen will shut off to you and simply hope the conversation is over as soon as possible…that’s not a good or effective conversation at all."

'Big Ox' Advises Customers to Inhale

KSFY.com of South Dakota has reported on 'Big Ox', a canister of pure oxygen that boasts benefits such as "claiming it can give you an energy boost, physical stamina, reduce stress, even cure a hangover". However, many parents are worried about the implications of 'huffing' anything, even if it is oxygen.

The can advises consumeres that "For best results, inhale the entire contents in one session, which could take 30 to 40 breaths."

Some are concerned that the cans, which look very similar to household cleaning aerosol cans. One parent from Sioux Falls was horrified to think that her children could buy the colorful cans from a convenience store and see inhaling products as entertainment.

Jim Green, a chemical dependency counselor, believes that,
"if young people see this as one way to do that, they may experiment with other inhalant types of things much more dangerous and many are outright deadly. It could considerably serve as a gateway to some of those more dangerous types of things."
He also said that the 'high' that Big Ox promises may come from inhaling so rapidly rather than from the oxygen itself. He recommended taking a walk around the block instead of purchasing this product, which is expensive - $13 for a large can.

One of the comments on the news story reads as follows:
"It is disgusting that a company is marketing such a product. Equally disgusting would be if businesses in this area would offer it for sale. Thank you, Reporter Haedicke for giving KSFY viewers a "heads-up" alert on this dangerous product. Anything that glamorizes and encourages a practice that kills people, most of them being our children, needs to be swiftly brought to the attention of the responsible public."

Should this product be receiving such censure? Do companies have a responsibility to change their products if they mimic other dangerous activities?

Here is BigOx's website.

About the contents:
"BigOx contains 89% pure oxygen in a personal bottle available in 4 different refreshing flavors. (Let’s note that the air we breathe contains 21% of pure oxygen. This is true only in places that are not highly elevated or polluted, in which case the percentage of oxygen is even less."

So what is the other 11%?
"The other 11% is composed of Nitrogen, Argon and trace amounts of other gases."

Are there any age restrictions?
"Though Big Ox is purely oxygen and is more clean than the air most of us breathe on a daily basis, it is recommended for people ages 18 and up. For those under the age of 18, it is recommended that parents or guardians monitor their child when using Big Ox to ensure its proper use."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Inhalant Use Second to Marijuana in Irish Teens

Ireland.com presented statistics on drug and alcohol use in youth that were alarming, to say the least. The binge drinking is the focus of the article, but towards the end there were a few sentences that caught my attention:
"About 50 per cent of the young people said they had used illegal drugs, with the average age of the first occasion at just 14 and a half. At 41 per cent cannabis was the most commonly used, followed by inhalants, poppers, cocaine, sedatives, amphetamines, ecstasy, and opiates."

Inhalants and poppers are reported to be the second and third most common drug amongst Irish teens - following only marijuana. More popular than cocaine or sedatives. More popular than amphetamines or ecstasy or opiates. 'Poppers' refer to alkyl nitrates that are inhaled to produce a high. Possession of these inhalants are legal in Ireland.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vote!

We have a new poll question to the right, this week's being "What do you think would be the most effective ways for kids to learn about inhalant abuse?" There are several options to choose from; feel free to pick more than one!

If you have any other ideas that would help kids learn more about the dangers and risks of inhalant abuse, please leave a comment.

Safe Kids Against Inhalants

Safe Kids of Central Shenandoah Valley has done a great job in raising awareness of inhalant abuse prevention in their community! After receiving a grant from the Virginia Department of Health in 2007, they began their efforts to spread inhalant abuse prevention messages to youths.

They have collaborated with the Harrisonburg City Schools and Risk Watch to issue a poster and essay contest for 7th graders. Their poster and essay contest was such a success last year, they are doing the same project again this year. Each participant will receive an "Inhalants Stink" t-shirt and tickets to the movie theater. The program is currently wrapping up for 2008, and they are happy to announce there have been more participants this year than last!

Safe Kids and the Strong Families Great Youth Coalitions have been working hard on getting inhalant prevention messages out to the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County community. Their Inhalant Abuse prevention display board has been rotated around Harrisonburg businesses and agencies during the past year. The board contains essential information for parents, educators and kids. That board has rotated around 10 businesses in Harrisonburg.

In addition to that, Safe Kids has incorporated table tents and tray liners which appear in middle schools and restaurants.

Safe Kids has also had a presence at several symposiums and fairs during the year. They exhibit their information in a variety of ways, including: table tents, bookmarks, tray liners, Virginia Department of Health’s tip sheet, and ACE’s What Every Parent Needs to Know About Inhalant Abuse brochures to name a few.

Notably, the group featured Inhalant Abuse prevention at the Harrisonburg Teen Pregnancy Prevention’s 2007 Teen Health fair. Approximately 400 teens were in attendance at the fair!

For more information on this group, or to find out how you can get involved, please contact Cindy Reeves at 540-433-4421 or email creeves@rhcc.com.

Vandals May Have Huffed Before Defacing Chapel

The Goddard Chapel in Marion, Illinois was hit by vandals, reports TheSouthern.com.

"Satanic drawings and offensive language" were spray painted on the chapel and "four monuments inside Rose Hill Cemetery" were defaced.

Bob Connell, the city cemetery sexton, said that "authorities believe teens were huffing the paint before using it to do damage the property." He also added that he had,

"been working here for 33 years and there has always been sporadic vandalism at the cemetery, but the problem seems to be worsening. There’s not much we can do, though. There are 120 acres of property to manage here. We can’t be out here 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Nearby, an empty can and cap were found, along with a trash bag.

Refrigerant Theft at Ultimate Omelet House

WFTV.com of Daytona Beach, Florida warns residents of a "dangerous, potentially deadly crime" that has been occurring in the area - thieves breaking into air conditioning units to huff the refrigerant inside.

Recently, the Ultimate Omelet House had to call repairmen since its air conditioning wasn't functioning correctly. The owner, Dan Byrd, was shocked to find out that the A/C unit had been tampered with to release the refrigerant inside. "Huffing refrigerant was never something that, and I used to be a Daytona Beach cop, you just never heard of that sort of thing," he said.

Replacing the refrigerant will cost over $400.

Tom McGuire, of Flair Air Conditioning, explained that "in the heating and air industry, it's a well-known problem" and that they had problems with refrigerant theft a few years ago.

McGuire also explained the dangers of refrigerant:

"It's going right into their head and they're getting a high that way. If they should happen to sniff the refrigerant liquid, it could kill them by vaporizing their lungs."

In addition, refrigerant "is also under pressure and can explode if you break into pipes, as was done at the restaurant, causing freezer burns and instant frostbite if it makes contact with skin."

Refrigerant theft was the subject of a letter to the editor a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blogger Posts About Inhalants After Funeral

My Two Pennies of Denver, Colorado blogged about inhalant abuse last week.

She mentions many statistics related to inhalants, and also other dangers that many aren't aware of:

"Besides sudden cardiac arrest (the most common cause of death from inhalants), huffing can kill quickly in a number of other ways. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other traumatic injuries are common and horrible. Others die from suffocation, burns, suicide (from the depression that can follow the high), and from choking – on their own vomit.

When huffing doesn’t kill quickly, it damages the body each time–especially the brain. Huffing can cause memory loss, impaired concentration, hearing loss, loss of
coordination, and permanent brain damage. Chronic use can cause permanent heart,
lung, liver, and kidney damage as well."

As a warning to parents, she explains that,

"Most huffing takes place with friends (although kids who sniff correction fluid in class when their teachers turn away are not uncommon). Be observant of your child and his or her friends.

Inhalants gradually leave the body for 2 weeks following huffing–mostly through exhaling. The characteristic odor is the biggest clue. Be on the lookout for breath or clothing that smells like chemicals. Look for clothing stains. Watch for spots or sores around the mouth.

Nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, nervousness, restlessness, and outbursts of anger can all be signs of inhalant abuse. A drunk, dazed, or glassy-eyed appearance
might mean your child is abusing inhalants right now."

She also pleads with parents to sit down and discuss inhalant abuse with their children early, because,

"Preventing huffing is far better than trying to treat an inhalant addiction. Talking with your child about it is more powerful than anything else (NIDA Research Monograph, 1988;85:8–29).

Start talking with your child about it now. Although huffing peaks between the ages of 12 and 15 years, it often starts “innocently” in children only 6 to 8 years old
(Pediatrics, 1996;97:3).

Literally thousands of easily available substances can be inhaled, so you can’t keep your child away from them. You can, however, educate and inspire."

The author posted this after attending a funeral for a 20-year-old who accidentally died after huffing. She writes,

"The pain it caused his family and friends was enormous and the loss of the one they loved will haunt them forever. This is a real, dangerous problem. Anyone, even a first time user, can die."

Parent Warns About Accessible Drugs

William Brigham of Scotts Valley, California wrote an article in the Press Banner that touches on several drugs that are easily available to kids - including inhalants.

He begins by saying,

"When mention is made of teen drug use, substances like marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamine are often what come to mind. But the other drugs that are not discussed enough are those found in your home, within easy reach of young people."
He then continues by explaining inhalants, and that "many such substances are available to young people, and they provide effects similar to alcohol: an initial rush followed by disinhibition, slurred speech and stupor, depending on how much was used."

Also mentioned are the problems that can be caused:
"Organ damage from sniffing solvents can be quite serious, including harm to the heart, brain, kidneys, lung or liver. More than 2 million teens have used inhalants, and while most will grow out of that particular drug use, some will continue and incur considerable physical harm."
Mr. Brigham is also an administrator of the NFL Program for Substances of Abuse.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Williams Speaks to Schools in Kentucky

Sgt. Jeff Williams spoke to crowds comprised of junior high students, high school students, parents, counselors, and police officers for two days last week in Glasgow, Kentucky. The state has made efforts to counter the high inhalant abuse rate in some areas by inviting speakers to talk to schools and community leaders.

Williams says that what he wanted to get across was to, "in plain language, relay the most important information" - the most important information being what inhalants are, signs of inhlanat abuse, as well as the potential consequences. He says that he wants to counter all of the bad information that kids hear from their peers and get the real information out there.

Every child is going to be faced with a choice of whether or not to use inhalants. It's no longer a question of 'if', he says. Parents avoid discussing inhalant abuse with their kids because they "don't want to teach them", so they don't talk to them. Williams is in favor of giving children the real facts, the dangers, and the consequences so that they are able to make an informed decision.

Sgt. Jeff Williams is a police officer from Indiana who has become active in the inhalant community after his son Kyle died in 2004. Last December he was unanimously elected to the ACE Board of Trustees. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sue Scheff and P.U.R.E

ACE has recently been in contact with Sue Scheff, a Parent Advocate and founder of the Parent's Universal Resource Experts, Inc. (P.U.R.E.™).Sue has been helping ACE increase awareness of the dangers of inhalant abuse through her weekly blog posts on a number of different sites.

Her group, Parent's Universal Resource Expert's™, are parents helping parents. For the past several years Parent's Universal Resource's has assisted families with valuable information and resources for their children and teens that are at risk. Teens that are struggling with today's peer pressure, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and simply good kids starting to make bad choices.

This past week, Sue notified ACE that her book “Wit's End" is being released next month. More info on Sue, her organization, and book can be found on one of the following sites: www.helpyourteens.com, www.suescheff.com, www.witsendbook.com

Great Advice on Helium.com

Helium.com has eight different articles written about inhalants, all containing important information about inhalant abuse.

Eric Buckingham describes the telltale warning signs and the damage that inhaling chemicals can do to your body. He asks parents to,
"Look around the house and trash for lots of empty cans or containers that should not be there. Huffing will also leave its mark on the face and hands of the addict. Depending on their pattern of abuse they can huff the chemical directly from the can, put it in a brown paper bag, and even soak a towel or cloth in it and inhale it that way. So watch for these items as well."
Effie Moore Salem referenced ACE and explains that kids may abuse inhalants,
"because they mistakenly believe that since these chemicals are so regularly used and common they are safe. The initial reaction is a high' or a funny feeling that they like. Their friends do it and they are urged to try it. Like other stimulants, it is addicting and once a habit is formed it is hard to break."
Valli Sarvani advises parents to:
"Teach early: Educate kids between ages 7 and 12 to think of toxic household products as poisons. Explain them how, many items produces gases that can make sick. If your children help with cleaning involving dangerous products, guide them to read the label warnings and directions.

Discuss only the dangers: Teach your kids how people abuse household products before they enter middle school. Explain them these products are as dangerous as alcohol and drugs. Discuss only the risks, and avoid mentioning specific items.

Be a friend: Parents are the most powerful influence on their teens. Be proactive and use that influence early and often. Talk to them as a friend in a positive tone. Give them assurance that you won't punish them.

Talk more frequently: Studies revealed that kids who learn a lot about the risks of inhalants or drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use them. So discuss with them as many times as you can.

Monitor your child: Monitor your child's activities. If you suspect your child huffing, ask about it directly. At that time avoid using accusatory language. If your child dislikes discussing with you, seek counseling immediately."
Rachel Mcclain offers great advice throughout her article, beginning by saying,

"if someone offered my young son a bopper, a popper, a snapper or even something as potential innocuous sounding as a glading, I would probably let him extend his hand and make him say please and thank you. The trouble is, they aren't going to offer him these things while I'm around.

That's because these are street names for huffing. When you use the other names, like head cleaner, poor man's pot, hippie crack, bullet, bolt and rush among a few, it doesn't sound so innocent. If you didn't recognize a single one of those names, you probably aren't alone.

One of the best ways to protect your children against something like huffing is to learn what it is, and learn what the warning signs are so you can recognize it in your own child or in one of his or her friends."

Callista Meyer warns that,
"being a risky yet cheap, legal alternative to getting high, the ages most commonly associated with inhalant abuse are 12 to 15 years old. More often than not these early teens are trying inhalants before they even attempt smoking. There for it is important to discuss the risks with your child before they enter junior high as this is when peer pressure reaches a peak."
All of the articles provide great information and statistics about inhalant abuse. Found another great source of information? Email us at info@consumered.org.

Man Hides Duster, Huffs in Bathroom

In late March, a 20-year-old man was arrested at a drug store in Milford, Michigan. The manager reported witnessing the suspect "repeatedly hiding aerosol cans in his shirt and then going into the store's bathroom." He called the police, who questioned the man after he left the bathroom.

The police reports say that he "appeared uneasy and slow-speaking" and that he denied inhaling the aerosol products. Also, the officers say that "video surveillance showed the man putting industrial duster in his pocket and then huffing it."

The accused faces charges of inhaling chemicals and third degree retail fraud.

Story from HometownLife.com.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Man Arrested Twice in One Night

Inhalant news has been slow this week, which is a good thing in general but not conductive to posting. So, we will be visiting some events from the past few months that haven't received a mention here yet.

Hanover, PA's The Evening Sun reported on March 30th that a man had been arrested twice within five hours for the same offense - driving while under the influence of inhalants.

Marlyn Runk III, a 19-year-old, was arrested at 4:20 PM after someone called the police to report a Subaru driving erratically.

Trooper George Ross stated that when he reached the scene, Runk's car was in someone's yard. The resident was holding Runk's keys and Runk was passed out in the driver's seat. According to Ross, as he approached the vehicle, Runk "took an aerosol can containing compressed air and sprayed it in his mouth."

He was arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance and driving with a suspended license.

Runk's cousin transported the Subaru to police barracks where the car was searched. Officers found three similar cans of computer dust remover. At 5:30 PM, Runk was released to the custody of his grandmother.

"I thought I was finished with him after that,"said Trooper George Ross.

Unfortunately, Runk would experience a run-in with the same officer later that evening.

Ross was dispatched to a DUI hit-and-run at 9:00 PM, and saw the same Subaru vehicle being towed away from an intersection. Runk was sitting in the passenger seat of the tow truck.

The officer thought, "it can't be him".

From the article:

"After stopping the tractor, Ross said Runk came down, looked at him and said, "Remember me?"

Ross said Runk told him a story about how he and a friend had been at his grandmother's house, but left. Runk initially said his friend was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, Ross said. But Runk eventually admitted he was driving during the crash, Ross said.

And when Ross searched the Impreza a second time, he allegedly found yet another bottle of compressed air."

Runk was then arrested for the same offenses - driving under the influence of a controlled substance and hit-and-run.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Deliberate Misuse of Inhaler in 1/4 of Teens

We've had a few questions on the inhalant.org message board in the past months about teens potentially using their asthma medication to get high. One poster's friend had a daughter whose inhaler recently needed to be refilled every week when it normally was only refilled every two or three months. Another's stepson was misusing his asthma medication and "has been eating this pills as if they are M&Ms!"

The University of Michigan News Service featured an article about a new study looking at the prevalence of inhaler abuse in teenagers. The study in question was performed by researchers at the U of M using 723 adolescents in thirty-two treatment facilities. The study reports that "nearly one out of four teens who use an asthma inhaler say their intent is to get high".

The lead author of the study, Brian Perron, declared that their findings "indicate that inhaler misuse for the purposes of becoming intoxicated is both widespread and may justifiably be regarded as a form of substance abuse in many cases."

The study also found that teens that abuse inhalers are more likely to abuse other drugs as well as have higher levels of distress. They were also more "prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts than youths who did not misuse their inhalers to get high."

From a survey of the study participants, "about 27 percent of youths who had been prescribed an inhaler used it excessively. In addition, one-third of all youths in the sample had used an asthma inhaler without a prescription."

So why would teens abuse their inhalers? What are the effects? The inhaler abusers said that they experienced positive feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and an increase in confidence.

The negative effects were "feeling more dizzy, headaches, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, and confusion."

The most common misusers of their asthma inhalers were females and Caucasians.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Whip-Its Legal, Sold to Undercover Intern

FOX News featured an undercover report on Whip Its (or 'whippits'), the nitrous oxide containers usually intended for whipped cream cainsters. They went incognito to an "alternative novelty shop" called Retro Active in St. Peters, Missouri.

The store clerk claimed that the whippits "give you this weird type of high", and told the undercover agent that in order to get high, you "put the balloon in your mouth and it shoots."

The whippits were sold with a tool used to release the nitrous oxide inside to make it easier to inhale. According to the clerk, "these are crackers, that's how you break them. When you put a balloon over top then it fills up the balloon and then you put the balloon in your mouth and it shoots."

FOX said that it didn't want to give "step by step instructions" but that parents "need to see the tools so you can spot potential problems with your kids".

They also interviewed Joe Amos, who is a former whippit abuser. He said that if "if I saw one that definitely they're using them to get high."

As for the crackers, "I have no other idea what you'd use that for. I think it's made specifically for that."

Because they are legal, some have the idea that it is safe to inhale the nitrous oxide. Amos said that several of his friends had parents that "actually bought them for them for Christmas ha ha, because it wasn't illegal and it's not pot."

The article describes how the internet is full of tutorials and videos of people abusing inhalants, and "one web site even lists the 'do's and don'ts' so you can avoid situations where 'people have died doing this.'"

FOX's undercover agent asked another salesperson why she was selling the whippits in the store. She answered that it was "cause I get informed, this is what you do while you work here."

The clerk who had instructed FOX's correspondant on how to use the whippit also may have just been following the rules, because he said "it just gave me a really bad headache. I just didn't like it that much."

There was no response from the owner of the store. FOX had notified authorities but doubts that there will be any prosecution.

Should whippits be made illegal? Should only the tools used to facilitate their abuse be restricted? What about online sales of whipped cream canisters? It is a good idea to recognize the cracker so that if you see one, you can immediately identify it. A quick image search for 'cracker' brings up not only pictures of it (they look like metallic canisters, about the size of a battery) but also many sites including eBay where you can buy both the cracker and nitrous oxide canisters.

Even More Huffing and Driving

There seems to be a rash of these lately - is it the springtime weather?

18-year-old Jason Lee Ward from Huntingburg, IN was arrested last Wednesday after police found him and his car in a resident's backyard. Officers found him "confused and disoriented".

Police claim that Ward "had been driving on Sycamore Street when he struck a parked truck. He then went past a dead end sign, stopping in a grove of trees in a backyard."

They believe that he had been abusing inhalants before the crash.

He is facing unknown charges and is currently being held in the Dubois County Security Center.

Reported by TriStateHomepage.com.

Teenagers Not Charged in Crash

On January 15th, 18-year-old Coty Miller crashed his car with three other teenagers into the front of a karate school in Gettysburg, PA. Originally, Brittany Hollinger, the prosecution's only witness, had told police that Coty bought the computer duster at a Wal-Mart and he and two others in the car then inhaled the contents. One of the passengers, Corwin Dillon, was her boyfriend at the time.

However, at a preliminary hearing as well as a later juvenile hearing, she recanted her story and said that she did not see the other passengers inhaling the duster. She said that she didn't even know what 'doing duster' meant, although the phrase was used in her handwritten account of the accident.

Adams County Assistant District Attorney Brian Sinnett said that even if she did testify to seeing the others huffing, it wouldn't matter because "the hospital didn't run the appropriate test to identify any substances that might have appeared in Miller's or Dillon's blood. "

Fred Davis also witnessed the accident. He claimed that he saw "Miller's car swerving around other vehicles on York Street before the accident. The driver, Miller, had his hands on the wheel, his eyes open, and that he and the front-seat passenger, Billings, were laughing."

Brittany Hollinger was injured in the crash, breaking two vertebrae in her back as well as cutting and bruising her head and hands.

Miller's charges originally included aggrevated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, DUI, inhaling toxic substances, corruption of minors, driving on the left side of the road, and three counts of reckless endangerment.

All were dropped except for the counts of reckless endangerment.

Will testing for inhalants be a problem for DWIs in the future? Inhalants dissipate rapidly from the bloodstream, and currently they can only be detected if blood is taken immediately after huffing and then frozen.

How much circumstantial evidence will be enough for an officer to determine whether or not a suspect is high from inhalants? Possible signs are a chemical smell on the suspect's person or vehicle, empty aerosol cans, or acting giddy or dizzy. It may become difficult to prosecute in these kinds of cases when there are no clear-cut tests for inhalants.

Story from The Evening Sun.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Huffing, More Driving

In South Dakota, a 25-year old man abused computer duster (or, incorrectly, 'compressed air') and crashed his vehicle into several others.

Maconnell Baker is believed to have inhaled the duster as he was driving. Lieutenant James Johns, from the Rapid City Police Department, called it "a classic example of a 'huffing' or 'dusting' crash."

Baker struck a Jeep Cherokee travelling in the same direction, causing it to spin. He then hit the curb and drove on the sidewalk for awhile until he hit the side of a Honda Accord, whose driver was waiting to turn at an intersection.

He then ran into a parked motorcycle, owned by a nearby crossing guard who was helping children across the street as Baker drove out of control. According to the guard, none of the children were hurt, and that they were "very fortunate that it wasn't worse than it was."

The driver of the Accord was taken to the hospital and last reported in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

The passenger in the Accord, a two-year-old, was not hurt.

The driver of the Cherokee was not hurt.

Baker was treated and released. He faces charges of driving under the influence and vehicular battery.

According to the article,

"This is not the first time Rapid City police have dealt with incidents allegedly involving huffing. A Rapid City teen was arrested Dec. 17 after crashing his vehicle into electrical boxes near the Rapid City Swim Center on Milwaukee Street. Police said they believed the 17-year-old was huffing compressed air shortly before the crash. He was arrested for driving under the influence and several other charges. At the time of the accident, police said it was the fourth crash in the past two months involving the abuse of compressed air."
There was another incident in addition to the crashes due to inhalant abuse - three months ago, a house caught on fire in Rapid City after the inhabitants were inhaling paint fumes.

Crash article from The Rapid City Journal.

Inhalant Abuser Hits Barrier With Car, Injures Eight

The St. Tammany News reported last week that an 18-year-old driver was abusing computer duster before causing a wreck involving three cars and eight people. Adrian Adels was driving on Highway 190 in Louisiana at 7:00 PM and misjudged the distance to the exit, hitting two other cars.

According to Covington Police Lieutenant Jack West, his vehicle "went through the curb dividing the highway, sending 1- and 2-foot chucks of concrete flying into the two other vehicles. He finally came to a stop on a steel culvert that hooked the undercarriage of his car."

The eight people involved were treated in nearby hospitals. One of the cars held a mother, father, and their small child. Fortunately, everyone was released with only minor to moderate injuries.

People on the highway who witnessed the accident "reported Adels was traveling at a high rate of speed and was driving erratically."

The passengers in Adels' car said that they had been abusing the computer duster while Adels was driving. Lt. West found two cans in the car along with two plastic bags.

Charges against Adels are pending and include driving while intoxicated as well as negligent injury. Lt. West did not know why Adels had not been charged yet.

Faithful readers of the blog will notice both the frequency of driving while abusing inhalants as well as the inhalant of choice - computer dusters, almost 100% of the time.

Why is this? Why are people huffing dust remover while driving but ignoring other inhalants? It could be that for every person that is found abusing inhalants and driving, there are fifty who are 'dusting' at home or with friends and not getting caught.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Huffing Dust Remover in Fort Myers

In Fort Myers, Florida, a woman was spotted inhaling dust remover by police officers and EMS paramedics while sitting in her car in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Sgt. Larry King, spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff, said that "It was quite obvious when he saw her huffing the aerosol from the can what was taking place."

The woman then slumped over in her seat and the deputy attempted to unlock the car door. When that failed, he broke the passenger window to extract her from the vehicle. She was sent to the hospital and then charged with inhaling dangerous chemicals.

She was "not trying to kill herself", but instead "going through a rough time and was just trying to clear her mind for a few minutes."

Article from WINKnews.com.

Driving Under the Influence in Arkansas

A 17-year-old from Gravette, Arkansas was arrested this past Tuesday after inhaling dust remover and driving. He was driving at 10:00 in the morning when his car ran into a ditch at the side of the road, hit a sewer, and flipped over. It then collided with the back of a National Home Center truck.

Both the driver and his passenger were taken to Northwest Medical Center for minor injuries. The driver of the truck was not hurt.

The 17-year-old had inhaled dust remover prior to driving, and was arrested for driving under the influence, careless and prohibited driving, and not wearing a seat belt.

Story from NWAnews.com.

Man Steals Paint, Hannah Montana Camera

The Dayton Daily News' police blotter showed an interesting case this past weekend, after officers were called to a Meijer grocery store in Englewood, Ohio. A man had resisted a loss prevention officer who "asked why the subject had a can of spray paint and a Hannah Montana video camera and whether he paid for the items." The man refused to answer and fled the store.

After being apprehended, he complained of lightheadedness and having difficulty breathing, so a medic was called.

Earlier that day he had been caught trespassing on Motel 6 property and huffing paint.

After arriving at the hospital, he was served with a summons for theft, trespass, and disorderly conduct/public intoxication.

Refrigerant Abuse in Canyon Lake

The Friday Flier printed a letter to the editor on May 2nd from Laurie Saumers, who submitted this piece "in an effort to help get the word out to all parents and residents in our local community[Canyon Lake, CA]".
"Huffing refrigerant is the new and latest high for our children. “Refrigerant?” you’re asking – at least that’s what we asked!

Here is what I learned. Our young children are huffing refrigerant from air conditioners through our community. Apparently this is a cheap and easy high for them, but one that is lethal and will kill. It has killed in the past and will continue too kill until we put a stop to it. This has become the choice drug for children ages 8 to 15, but not limited. They have easy access and it cannot be traced through blood testing.

This was brought to my attention just recently by a gentleman who actually brought his young son who was high on refrigerant to my house late one evening to inform me that my son showed his son how to do this. My first reaction was, “Not my son.” After two days of looking into this, contacting the authorities and the POA [Property Owners Association], many tears later my husband and I are here to say, “Yes our son, yes your son and yes their son.”

Yes, this behavior is out there and happening everyday in our neighborhoods. It’s easy, our air conditioners are right there and, to be honest, who would think someone would steal your refrigerant – but they are! Please watch for this, it could be one child, or even a group them. If they are near your air conditioner they are probably up to no good.

This type of high is very habit forming and very deadly; it has no prejudice, it will take all who is willing. Please talk with your children, know their friends. Make it your business to know who is hanging around your house and neighborhood. I have
always known my son’s friend and their parents. My husband and I can tell you
that, if we had been a little more proactive watching the neighborhood, we would
not be going through this! We love our son, we love your sons; this needs to
stop.

The local authorities are aware this is going on and so is the POA. I will be contacting the local elementary, middle and high schools. We also need your help."

Another resident of Canyon Lake, Charlene Kussner, responded to the letter in the next week's Flyer:

"I wanted to thank Laurie Saumers for her letter to the editor about huffing refrigerant. As a parent of two boys in Canyon Lake, I appreciate her honesty and forthrightness in addressing this issue. We are a community and it does, indeed, take a "village" sometimes to protect our children.

With her candid letter, other parents are now aware of this problem and we can all be vigilant in protecting our young people. Mother to mother – thank you, Laurie!"

Boredom Contributes to Inhalant Use in Oklahoma

The Muskogee Phoenix printed an article called "Parents Might Not Notice Kids 'Huffing'" last week, and featured several residents of the small town in Oklahoma giving their opinions on inhalant abuse.

One teenager, Madison Hayes, says that fun activities would decrease the experimentation with alcohol and drugs:
"Muskogee is a small town; there’s not a lot kids can do. Some of them just drink and smoke pot. They get to do the bragging, and they get to talk about their weekend. I think that more activities would be a positive thing to do.”
She also described someone she knew that had used inhalants, saying that "he tried it because he thought he would just get high, but it turned out to be one of the scariest things he’s ever done,” she said. “He said it was crazy and dumb, and the aftermath was so awful that he would never do it again. I don’t think he knew about the danger at the time, or he would not have done it.”

Valerie Grober, a pharmacist at Wagoner Community Hospital, claims that abusing inhalants is as common as smoking marijuana.

"Abuse of inhalants by middle school children has increased up to 44 percent over a two-year period,” she said. “The products used in huffing are readily available and for sale legally.”
She also advised parents to "remain involved. Many children think huffing is fun and are totally unaware of the very real dangers involved. ... Set a pattern of talking with and listening to your child from the time they are young.”

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What to Look for in Your Teen

The Aristocrats! blog just featured "Is My Teenager Using Drugs - the Warning Signs" which highlights inhalant abuse as well as other common drug cover-ups. This is a good read for parents of any teenager. Here are a sample of what to look for in your child, from their post:
"Changes in friends- Sudden distancing from long time healthy relationships toward new and otherwise strange friends. Older crowds or less motivated peers can indicate a move toward a drug related crowd. A clear indicator is a drastic change in playgrounds and playmates, often toward clearly less desirable people and places. Sudden interest in a church youth group or joining marching band is obviously not of concern. Getting busted at a RAVE is.

Increased secrecy about possessions or activities. Hiding objects or unusual secret activities often indicate drug use. Some degree of modesty is always present in teens with regard to things like crushes, friend dilemmas, or other normal behaviors. Hiding things is a different matter. Locks on bedroom doors or boxes indicate that a teen is hiding something, and that something is probably bad.

Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories. There have been cases of Teens huffing as many as 50 cans of household chemicals such as air freshener a month. Huffing produces a very short but damaging high which needs immediate re-use to continue. Huffing of common items is almost always a gateway to broader drug experimentation."

Here is a list of more inhalant-specific warning signs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Delays

ACE has to take an uncustomary break from posting for this week, because of the mid-year meeting in Chicago, Illinois. We will resume our inhalant news either Friday or Monday, so make sure to check back!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Win Tickets to a Rock Cats Game

ACE and the New Britain Rock Cats are teaming up this season, and tickets are available to the May 17th game in Connecticut for families who read this information page and email rockcats@rockcats.com.

The subject line should be "Inhalant Abuse", and the body of the email should describe what you have learned from ACE about the seriousness of juvenile inhalant abuse. Four tickets will be given away per family while supplies last. One fan will be selected to throw out the first pitch.

The first 1,500 kids who attend will get a free Rock Cats/ACE hat. ACE staff will be in attendance to further distribute information.

Kids Try Different Products for 'Legal High'

KTVZ of Central Oregon posted Part Two of a special report, "Teens and Legal Highs". This article seeks to inform parents about the prevalence of inhalant abuse in youth.

A School Resource Officer interviewed said that computer duster is a particularly popular inhalant.

One teenager that the interviewer spoke with says his peers "take the nozzle of that dust off stuff, put it in their mouth, and spray. Your lungs can collapse. Teens also do that with hairspray you put a towel over it. I saw it on TV."

YouTube is also mentioned, as many students are able to find videos of their peers huffing and laughing, without showing any of the negative side effects.

Other legal highs are explored, such as eating nutmeg and poppy seeds. One woman, after losing her poppy plant, said that she "wondered where did my plant go? I realized kids took it to get high. I bet they didn't get high from it, but I miss my plant."

I see this as another argument against restriction of inhalants in retail stores - it's clear that kids aren't looking for a specific product, but for anything to get the high sensation. If one product is banned, next week it will be another popular 'drug' that kids ingest. Should nutmeg be kept locked in cabinets? Should poppy seed products only be sold to adults with valid ID?

Perhaps the focus should be on why youths are so intent on getting high by any means possible. Is it a form of escape? Is peer pressure so overwhelming? Is it just juvenile experimentation? Boredom?

Media Response to Students Huffing on Bus

CBS News 9 of Greenville, North Carolina has recently posted an article called, "Teens Caught Huffing: Why It's So Dangerous" in response to a March 26th incident at Richland High School.

Two 16-year-old students were ill on the school bus going home, and after they were dropped off another student told the bus driver that the two were inhaling from a can of computer duster. They were cited the following day for "inhaling toxic fumes and possession of a toxic substance."

The two students were not physically harmed by inhaling, but Dr. Electra Martin of a nearby hospital warns that,
"People can have brain damage, long lasting brain damage and it can even lead to death. It can cause heart arrhythmia which can cause death immediately."

She also recommends that parents look for "paint on hands and face. Clothes that aren't accounted for. If you have a runny nose. Sores around the mouth and nose."

This story follows one from last week; "Three Girls Huff on Bus, Become Ill". Perhaps it would be a good idea to include bus drivers in initiatives to raise awareness with educators and parents - many probably do not recognize the dangers of inhalant abuse or how to spot potential indicators: abusable products, side effects, or behaviors of students high on inhalants.