Blog Report

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tuesday Talks with Tori: Antonio Roque Making an IMPACT

Antonio Roque is the hardworking advisor for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) prevention and early intervention student assistance program, IMPACT. IMPACT focuses on students with issues resulting from family violence, divorce, drugs and alcohol, loss of a loved one, or living in gang territory, and currently has programs in 69 middle and high schools. IMPACT trained teachers and counselors identify students who may be suffering from any of the abovementioned concerns and encourage them to take part in an IMPACT student educational support group, which serves as a safe place for students to talk about their feelings and concerns.

Taking Care of Inhalant Abuse in LAUSD

In 2007, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that Los Angeles Unified School District students are at a “greater risk” of abusing inhalants than their US counterparts. “The current increase of inhalant abuse by our youth is an alarming fact that has our coordinators in need of resources, staff training, and an overall awareness of the problem to students, school personnel, parents, and the community.” In order to raise this awareness, IMPACT’s department took part in a series of meetings with city officials and community-based drug education organizations to address the increase use of inhalants by youth in the Los Angeles community. “The meetings resulted in the formation of a collaborative made up of representatives from the community at large.”

In addition to being part of the collaborative, Roque has been presenting to school staff and parents throughout LAUSD. “On April 12 of this year, I presented at the 12th Annual Parent Summit held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. On April 30th, I presented at the Educate, Energize and Empower Series on Child Safety—Gangs/Games and TV Violence/Alcohol/Internet/STD.” On both occasions, parents were shocked to find how easily everyday products are purchased and abused.

Throughout his presentations, Roque has received one common and clear message from parents: Education for parents and students is an overdue necessity.
“Though the parents are not totally in the dark about inhalants, the one prevalent barrier to overcome is the idea of, ‘not my child. My child is not doing that!’ This can only be overcome through more awareness and educational events.”

“The critical message for us as educators to convey to parents is the dual importance of talking to their children about inhalants and how to talk to them about the topic. The reports of children as young as 6 years of age having tried inhalants are an alarming fact that we should all take into account when discussing harmful substances and products with our children. As parents, these conversations need to start at an early age; and as teachers, we should be incorporating these topics into our healthy-living lessons in the classroom.”

In the new school year, Health Education Programs and IMPACT are planning more staff developments, awareness activities, presentations, and collaborations in the hopes of bringing down the high rate of inhalant abuse in local communities.

Volatile Substance Abuse in Teenagers

Original article by Christopher Evans of

The author of a new piece on the need for education of volatile substance abuse, (VSA) otherwise known as huffing, declares that the lack of proper drug education is failing “our young people.” He states that the “youngest person to die from VSA was just seven years old, and the oldest was 80 years old,” suggesting that more education on all age and grade levels is necessary.

Christopher Evans quotes a 2007 report by St Georges University which detailed the latest statistics regarding deaths associated with VSA between 1971 and 2005. The study added the total UK recorded VSA deaths since 1971 to be 2,198.

Evans goes on to describe the many problems with inhalants; their easy access, the fact that no special equipment or pipe is necessary, the lack of home drug tests for inhalants, and the unique and fatal disorder known as “sudden sniffing death syndrome.”

“The good news is that since 1992, raised awareness has resulted in a significant fall in deaths from volatile substance abuse but, while the fact remains that one person in the UK still dies from VSA every week, increasing awareness of drug abuse through drug education is essential, whether young people receive this in the classroom or at home from their parents.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Michigan Survey Shows Drop in Student Drug Use

From Grand Blanc News, Saturday July 26, 2008

The Michigan Alcohol and Other Drugs School Survey (MAOD) is a voluntary survey that collects data from eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders from more than 400 school districts across the state regarding their attitudes toward, and use of, drugs. Students were asked whether they had, in their lifetimes or in the past month, used alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, marijuana, smokeless tobacco, amphetamines, barbituates, tranquilizers, hallucinogens, cocaine, steroids, heroin or other narcotics.

"Alcohol seems to be the drug of choice as we go through this," said Assistant Superintendent Norman Abdella, who presented the information showing that in each grade, alcohol was in the highest percentage of use. However, since 1996, when Grand Blanc began participating in the survey, drug use has dropped in almost every category.

This is the last year the MAOD survey will be given, but Abdella said the district will begin conducting its own similar survey in 2009. Abdella said the survey was "extremely voluntary and extremely confidential," which could mean that the numbers may not accurately reflect student drug use.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rural life opens U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services’ eyes

From Tundra Drums, a publication of Alaska Newspapers, Inc

Last week a member of President Bush’s Cabinet, Mike Leavitt (head of the Department of Health and Human Services) toured a Western Alaska village to get a better understanding of the problems that help leave Alaska Natives riddled with health problems.

“This is just unacceptable,” he said, as he stared at a festering sewage lagoon on the edge of Kwethluk, a Yup’ik village of about 750.

Frothy, olive-colored “Honeybucket Lake,” as residents call it, is where the village dumps its feces because, like dozens of rural Alaska communities, it lacks flush toilets and running water.
“When it floods, it seeps out,” mixing with floodwaters that reach town and turn dirt roads into a soupy mess, said tribal administrator Herman Evan.

He and other village leaders suggested that may be one reason children often miss school with diarrhea, fevers and other illnesses. Also, the lack of tap water makes it difficult to wash hands – most villagers draw their drinking water from the Kwethluk River.

The day started with a visit to a behavioral health center in Bethel, where psychiatrists, teachers and other experts help troubled boys recover from a history of huffing gas and other inhalants. Toward the end of the day, Leavitt said the trip gave him an eye-opening view of village life that will lead to better-informed decisions as he reviews budgets totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

To find out more about the Secretary’s visit please click here for the full story.

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Alex Demarban, author of the article, as he shares his thoughts and experience with touring the Western village alongside Secretary Leavitt.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Talks with Tori: CSPA President Chris Cathcart on the Issues

Everyone knows there are many aspects to dealing with the issue of inhalant abuse. Today, I sat down with Chris Cathcart, President of the Consumer Specialty Products Association, ACE Board Secretary and father of four to get his perspective on how industry and ACE can work effectively to protect our children and communities. For more information on CSPA visit their homepage at

Cathcart on...
CSPA’s involvement with ACE
Chris Cathcart has been involved with the Alliance for Consumer Education since the foundation’s launch in 2000. This involvement and the strong partnership between CSPA and ACE proves his belief that it is vital for the industry to team up with non-industry in order to educate the public about health and safety risks associated with common products. “We are concerned parents and educators as well, and we saw a growing concern that children could misuse products in ways that we couldn’t even imagine.” This concern led to the development of ACE, which Cathcart believes has a unique role because “its goal is to reach out to any and every consumer.”

Being a parent
As a father of four, Cathcart realizes that, while they may think you’re hovering, “you sort of have to keep a close eye on your kids, because there is a lightning fast spread of information through the internet which allows your kids to find out anything.” He believes that parents, educators and guardians are going to have to change and adapt because the internet is not going away, and the ways of communicating are changing constantly. ACE is helping with this adaptation by developing a world in Second Life and creating social networking pages on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Squidoo. Cathcart also emphasizes the importance of talking to children. He references a statistic from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America that shows when a parent talks to their child about inhalant abuse, that child is half as likely to even try an inhalant.

ACE’s accomplishments
Chris Cathcart has been the secretary of ACE’s board for the foundations entire existence, and has watched ACE grow and evolve for the past eight years. “ACE has grown in so many remarkable ways. The staff’s ingenuity to get into the school systems and really get out there amazes me. Every week, their reach grows exponentially.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

18-Year-Old Dies After Huffing Refrigerant From Car

From WKRG-TV in Mobile, Alabama:

An 18-Year-Old is now dead after huffing refrigerant from his car. According to police, he “was hanging out with a few friends when he raised the hood of a truck, opened the refrigerant valve and filled a plastic bag with refrigerant. He “then held the bag to his face and inhaled.”

Shortly after huffing the refrigerant he had a heart attack. He was then taken by helicopter to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

17 Year-Old Crashes Car After Huffing

From the Palladium-Item in Richmond, Indiana:

Last Thursday morning, a 17-year-old teen allegedly huffed dust remover before crashing his parents’ car into two guardrails.

Witnesses report that he was “swerving and spitting out of his car’s window prior to the crash.”

The automobile was towed from the scene of the crash and he was treated and released from the hospital. The Police have charged the teen with “driving under the influence, operating while intoxicated and inhaling intoxicating vapors, all Class A misdemeanors.”

15 Year-Old Dead After Huffing Refrigerant

From WREG in Memphis, Today’s THV 11 in Little Rock, and the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Arkansas:

Last Wednesday, a 15- year-old Arkansas boy was killed after he “huffed refrigerant from an air conditioner and got into a swimming pool.”

“According to a police report, the sister of one of the victims "looked outside the window and saw her brother floating in the pool and he was foaming from the mouth. She also stated she saw the other victim in the pool with a garbage bag over his head but he was above the water. She ran outside screaming at them and got no response, pulled them from the pool and called 911."

Her brother was pronounced dead at the hospital after “EMTs and emergency room personnel had attempted to revive him for about an hour.”

The second boy was found “breathing, but disoriented.” He was treated and released from the hospital. The bag that had covered his head tested positive for refrigerant. The County Coroner learned from the surviving boy what had happened. “The boys contrived a means of channeling refrigerant from the outside air conditioner unit into a 30-gallon trash bag, then got into the pool and took turns inhaling from the bag.” He further explained that they had leaned how to get the refrigerant out of the air conditioner from a peer and that they had “filled the 30-gallon bag five or six times.”

The Coroner also noted that inhalant abuse is “prevalent among teens, especially those between the ages of 12 to 14” and that “teens who abuse inhalants likely do not understand the dangers involved.”

The state medical examiner cautioned that this “was the second drowning he had seen involving huffing” and he suspects “there are also falls associated with huffing deaths.”

Glue-Sniffing on the Rise in Fiji

According to the Fiji Daily Post, glue-sniffing is on the rise with the younger students.

The article notes, “in a statement, interim Minister for Education Filipe Bole said his ministry was “seriously concerned” on how glue sniffing was escalating at an alarming rate and “efforts to protect children needs to be vigilantly pursued.” The minister said that although the substance was relatively new in Fiji, it was “reaching crisis proportions”.

A parent is “calling on parents to be more vigilant with their children and be aware of the availability of the item in various shops.” The minister “stressed that the most effective weapon in the war on such drugs was education” and “added that it was crucial that parents, caregivers, guardians, the school and the community to work together to assist in the monitoring.”

Man Caught Huffing…. Again

A 44 year old West Virginia man was arrested charges of huffing paint.
This was the 7th time since 1998 that he has been arrested on the same charges.
He was found with silver paint on his face and was charged with inhaling intoxicants.

Psychologist David Blum of Northwood Health System is quoted in the article, “addiction to inhalants is actually considered by many to be stronger than addiction to heroin and other drugs.”
He continues, “gold or silver spray paints have a higher concentration of toluene” which can cause “permanent damage and “sudden sniffing death.”

Powerful Message from the Manloves

From a letter to the editor in the Tri-State Media:

Death a ‘wake up call’ on the dangers of huffing chemicals:

To the editor:
The recent huffing death of a young woman in Boonville has been a tragic reminder to my wife and me about the dangers of inhalant abuse and a wake up call for the tri-state area.

Law enforcement, judiciary and community officials are worried and are sounding the alarm, according to the article (“Teen dies from huffing,” July 9). They should be and so should every parent of a preteen or teenager who isn’t aware of this type of substance abuse.

Huffing, the intentional inhaling of a volatile propellant or gas to get high, may seem unthreatening because its effects are short-lived.The propellants and gases that produce the brief feeling of euphoria are in hundreds of household items. So, how could they be deadly or harmful? They are harmful because the chemicals that make up propellants in aerosol cans are poisons and toxins that were never intended to be introduced into the human body. Our family learned that lesson the hard way when our 16-year-old son, David, died after inhaling the propellant in a can of computer duster.

An astounding and terrifying reality is the wide gap between what parents know or think about inhalant abuse and what young people report. According to a survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, one in five teens has abused inhalants, yet only five percent of parents believe that their child has ever tried inhalants.

When parents are aware of a lethal risk in their home, they do everything possible to warn their children and/or eliminate that risk. But these useful household products can be lethal when abused and unfortunately few parents and their teens are talking about the dangers of huffing or looking for signs of use.

The reality is that every time teens abuse inhalants they are playing Russian roulette. Huffing can kill the first time, the 20th time or the 100th time. Continued use can result in brain damage, hearing and memory loss and/or permanent damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys and other vital organs.

This should be a wake-up call for parents, schools, our entire community — for more conversation and education. Our children deserve to have information that could save their lives and the lives of their friends. Information permits discussion, which can lead to prevention.

Parents, take time this summer to talk to your teens and pre-teens about huffing. Arm yourselves with information about the dangers of inhalants and how to talk to your kids about drugs through Web sites such as, and, and

Talk to your school administrators about getting information about inhalant abuse in the library, counseling office and at PTA meetings.We thought we would know the signs of serious drug use in our son but we were wrong.Substance abuse cuts across all sectors of our society and touches one family in three.Our family story doesn’t have a happy ending, but we can honor David’s memory if we can help make others aware of the deadly perils of inhalant abuse.

Kim and Marissa Manlove

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday Talks with Tori: 4 Questions with Richard Wong

Hi there, this is Tori Wong, and to kick off my “Tuesday Talks with Tori” I spent 10 minutes with the Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and ACE Board member, Dr. Richard Wong (no relation). Just kidding, Dr. Wong is not only the hard working Executive Director of a growing organization, he is also my father. Today, he agreed to talk to us about what school counselors are doing to combat the growing epidemic of inhalant abuse in schools across the country and why it’s important.

Tori Wong (TW): As the Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), what do you see as the major problem with inhalant abuse?
Richard Wong (RW): Of course, the primary problem with inhalant abuse is that it exists at all. It's unfortunate that young people need to take common products that are a part of our everyday lives and use them in ways that could kill them with just one incidence of abuse. Beyond that, the major problem is a lack of understanding and awareness by the general public. If more adults knew how dangerous and accessible inhalant abuse is, and then took action, the problem wouldn't be as serious. The lack of understanding leads to a reluctance to discuss the problem or a denial that a problem exists, both of which make the problem worse.

TW: How do you think school counselors are working to solve that lack of awareness in their own schools?
RW: Through a collaboration between ASCA and ACE, school counselors across the country have used the inhalant abuse kits and other materials developed by ACE to educate their students about the dangers of inhalant abuse and to educate parents about effective ways to talk with their children, to spot warning signs that their children may be abusing inhalants or other substances, and to use products prudently to limit their children's access to products that potentially could be abused

TW: We all know there are many issues for parents, teachers, and counselors to deal with, why do you feel that more parents should educate themselves and their children about the dangers of inhalants?
RW: The fact is that inhalant abuse could potentially by more dangerous than illegal drugs or prescription medicine abuse. One incidence of abuse could result in permanent brain-damage or even death. At the same time, inhalants are more accessible than marijuana, cocaine or other illegal substances and even more accessible than alcohol. Products that are susceptible to inhalant abuse are part of our lives; it would be very difficult to get along with out them, so parents can't simply ban them from their house or stop using them. Therefore, they should educate themselves and their children about the proper ways to use and store the products and the dangers of abusing them.

TW: What can parents do to protect their children from the dangers of inhalant abuse?
RW: The reality is that we can't always protect them, so we need to help them protect themselves. Parents need to talk with their children about all risky behaviors. Of course, adolescent brains aren't fully developed and adolescents don't always use the best judgment, so parents should monitor their children's activities and take action when they have even the smallest suspicion. Some parents are hesitant to do anything because they fear they might anger their children and alienate them. Parents need to remember that they're the grown-ups in the family and it's their responsibility to make sure that their children become responsible grown-ups also. ACE provides excellent materials to help parents talk to their children and monitor them without being too constrictive. Their school counselors are an excellent resource as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Man Uses Inhalants with Two 13 year Old Girls

According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in South Dakota, a 22 year old man has been charged with providing alcohol to and using an inhalant with two 13 year old girls.

On Jun 19th, the “the trio ingested air from a can used to dust off keyboards.” One of the girls “was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital and was still there earlier this week.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Mississippi Drug Study

From WLBT-TV Jackson, MS

A 2007 survey found more than 4% of Mississippi students in grades sixth through eleventh used inhalants in a 90-day period. Still alcohol and marijuana are most commonly abused.

Police from Madison, Mississippi have been noticing an alarming increase in alolesent drug use. “Police chief Gene Waldrop won't call it an epidemic but a display case in the department's front hall filled with confiscated drug paraphernalia proves it does exist.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teen Suffocates In Huffing Incident

According to the Evansville Courier Press, July 7, 2008, a 17-year-old Indiana girl has died from huffing butane.

On Thursday, July 3rd, sheriff deputies received a report that Karissa Krohn had fallen unconscious after having inhaled butane from a container used to refill cigarette lighters. Krohn was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Krohn’s friends were interviewed and said she had huffed the chemical once before but it had not negatively affected her.

Sheriff Marvin Heilman said he has heard of no other instances of butane abuse in Warrick County. “The victim’s actions obviously brought a horrible tragedy to her family and friends,” he said. “Karissa, by all accounts, was a hardworking, well-adjusted, normal teenager who was willing to experiment with an unknown risk with no fear of consequences and she died.”

Mother Arrested After Huffing With Teen

From, July 7th, 2008

A 25 year old North Dakota woman is in jail for child abuse, among other charges.Police were called to a neighborhood park on the evening of July 3rd after someone reported seeing two infants wandering around alone. The boys were ages one and three and their mother was found in a nearby car huffing dusters with a 15 year old girl. The woman was arrested for child abuse and neglect, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and inhalation of vapors. Police later found 24 cans of duster in the car.

Monday, July 7, 2008

She started Huffing at the Age of 9

In a follow-up piece to the Vermillion piece earlier this month, KELOLAND TV in South Dakota interviews a mother who started using inhalants at age 9.

“Deanna, who only wants us to use her first name, is very open about her early addiction with huffing. She started at age 9. Mainly because of peer pressure.” "Gasoline, lighter fluid, rubber cement, nail polish," said Deanna. Deanna says huffing those chemicals would cause her to hallucinate. "Like you were in a video game, sometimes I passed out a couple of times," said Deanna. "Nobody was there to tell me how to say no."

The counselor who is helping treat Deanna notes: "I think probably 8 out 10 clients have had an experience or at least tried huffing one time or another in their life,"

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Former Soldier Killed by Inhalants

The FayObserver in Fayetteville, NC reports that a combination of prescription pills and computer cleaner recently took the life of Joseph Patrick Dwyer.

31 year old Dwyer was a “former Army medic who became famous after he was photographed helping a wounded Iraqi boy.”

Three years ago, in an interview with Newsday, “Dwyer and his friends admitted that Dwyer abused inhalants.”

Capt. Floyd Thomas of the Pinehurst Police Department states that “bottles of pills and a canister of computer cleaner were found near Dwyer when police entered his home this past Saturday.”

“Dwyer had called transportation on Saturday night to take him to the hospital after an apparent overdose. When the cab driver arrived, Dwyer was lying on the floor. Dwyer told the driver he could not get to the door, according to the police report.The driver called police, who kicked in the door of the Longleaf Drive home at Dwyer’s request.”

“Help me, please,” Dwyer told police through his front door. “I’m dying. Help me. I can’t breathe.”

After being loaded into an ambulance, medics performed CPR, according to the police report. He was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m.

Inhalant Abuse on the Rise in India

According to the Calcutta Telegraph, inhalant abuse amongst teens in India is on the rise.

“S. Haque Nizamie, the director of the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP), said the use of inhalants among children is increasing at an alarming rate.” The director added, “cases of inhalants are increasing day by day” and children are mostly using inhalants while in school, without parents or teachers even realizing it.

The article points out that most of the children are “between the age group of 13 and 16 years” and “this month around 15 cases of substance use and inhalants were received at the child psychiatry ward of the CIP.”

Products used include: petrol, diesel, kerosene, whitener, fevicol, cough syrups and brown sugar.

Change to Student Handbook in Pennsylvania

From the Clearfield Progress in Pennsylvania:

The revised Glendale School District student handbook was officially approved by the school board last Monday---one of the new addictions concerns inhalants.

“Another major addition is under the drug and alcohol policy. The district has added whiteout to the list of inhalants. That category also includes gasses, solvents, butane, propane and adhesives.”

Drug Education Forum

Thank you to Drug Education Forum for highlighting our program in a recent post.

In the posting they profiled our Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit, which will allow so many more parents and communities to become aware of this free preventative resource. They also provided a link to the electronic downloadable version of the Kit, which has already led to a high number of downloads since their post was made active.

According to their site, the “Drug Education Forum is the umbrella body for national organisations committed to improving drug education in England.”

Inhalant Death in Pennsylvania

From WTAJ in Altoona, Pennsylvania

A 34 year old man died early Saturday morning after inhaling “dusters.”

The article notes, “Dusters is a chemical used to clean computer keyboards. Police officers say huffing is a larger problem than people realize because of the easy access to household items used for sniffing."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Inhalant Abuse Prevention in Other Regions

From Drug Education News, something we'll be closely keeping an eye on:

"The Australian government has published a review of interventions that have been aimed at Volatile Substance Abuse. Here’s what their executive summary says about education interventions:

Australian educational authorities continue to pursue a policy of not providing education about VSM [Volatile Substance Misuse] under school-based drug education programs, on the grounds that such education may inadvertently encourage experimentation with inhalants.

Some information about volatile substances is provided through occupational health and safety training. In England and Wales, by contrast, schools are required to include information about solvents in drug education programs. The UK Government is currently funding a five-year follow up study of the impact of school-based drug education on subsequent drug use.

Education targeting known inhalants appears to be ineffective when it adopts scare tactics. However, education highlighting the potential impact of VSM on valued activities, such as capacity to play sport, may be useful.

Education about inhalants for parents and professional people likely to come into contact with VSM, such as teachers and welfare workers, and for communities where VSM occurs, has been shown to be of value.

Skills training, remedial education and employment have all been shown to contribute to reducing VSM.

Man Huffing on Church Roof

According to the Mankato Free Press in Minnesota, a 20 year old man was caught “huffing” on the top of a church. The man was allegedly huffing “refrigerant from an air-conditioning unit and “a fire truck with a lift and bucket had to be called to get him down from the roof.”

Vermillion Teen STILL Hospitalized

From Keloland Television News, July 1st 2008

Last week we posted a blog about a South Dakota teen that was hospitalized after huffing compressed air with a friend in a mobile home park. That teen is still in the hospital, two weeks after the incident and a formal investigation is underway. Authorities say that the fact that she is still in the hospital is a sign that she faces some serious injuries that she could be dealing with for the rest of her life. And while we cannot find out her condition because of medical privacy laws, police say this case shows just how dangerous "huffing" can be.

Police are using this story as an opportunity to educate teens and their parents about the hidden dangers of inhalants. Police chief Art Mabry says “parents need to get involved with their kids,” and visit the websites their kids are on because many are learning how to get high from popular online sites.

Many parents and residents in the Vermillion area are taking his advice and keeping a closer watch on their children and their safety.