Friday, May 28, 2010

Woman Abuses Inhalants, Found Comatose

From Disclosure:

Police believe an Arkansas woman may have huffed herself into a coma. The woman, 40, reportedly purchased dozens of cans of computer duster from a local Wal-Mart. Her trip happened between 2 am and 3 am led to an all-out binge in her minivan.

Surprisingly, the bittergent did not deter her. After emptying more than two dozen cans, she punctured cans to release the pressurized chemicals faster.

However the expected high was more than she bargained as an ambulance responded to the unconscious woman thanks to an emergency call. Current reports are unclear whether she is still in hospital or at a substance abuse treatment facility.

Inhalant Abuse May Have Caused Crash

From KFGO (May 27):

A Good Samaritan took the keys away from an intoxicated driver after noticing the driver seemed "out of it". The driver, a Fargo resident, did not admit huffing but police suspect inhalant abuse contributed to the fender bender. The witness says the 38-year old driver was holding a can of duster upon exiting the vehicle, which had crashed into a parked car.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Man Found With Duster, Denies Intoxication

From My Fox9:

A Minnesota man was found unconscious in his car earlier this today. Feared to be intoxicated, Target patrons called the police. The man took nearly 20 seconds to respond to a tap on his shoulder, which confirmed suspicions. When he was finally roused, the man tried to disguise his apparent wrong doing.

The man, 35, claimed he was on his way to work and only parked in the lot for "a couple of minutes". However the man showed a worrying lack of coordination as he struggled to stand up straight upon exiting the car. A drug expert confirmed the man was not sober and police arrested him on the spot.

This is the second DWI charge issued to the St. Paul resident. In 2006, he was charged in a different county.

Man Attacks Corpse, Blames Inhalants

From The Strait Times (May 21):

A judge handed down a 30-week sentence to a Singapore man who strangled and slapped a corpse. The sentence was one of three he has received in the last 12 months. Last October the 35-year-old was charged with theft for stealing a mobile phone. In March, he was punished for an inhalant-related offense.

This time, charged separately for huffing and indignity toward a human corpse, the man pleaded for leniency. He claimed was under the influence of inhalants which impaired his judgment.

Homeless Man Arrested For Sniffing Glue

From The Courier Press (May 25):

Police arrested a homeless man outside an Indiana Pep Boys. Employees. Authorities were initially alerted after store managers spotted the man yelling and threatening customers with a knife.

The 53-year-old perpetrator took things one step further when he entered the store and began huffing tire repair glue. However this was the last straw as police arrested the man who smelled of alcohol and glue. Police found a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor that confirmed his suspected intoxication.

Sadly, this is not the man's first run-in with the law as he has previous arrest for marijuana posssession and violent misconduct among other charges.

Monday, May 24, 2010

California Crash Leaves Two Hospitalized, Inhalants Involved

From The Daily Bulletin (May 21):

San Bernadino police arrested a man for suspicion of driving under the influence after his vehicle crashed into a house. Various accounts say the 18 year old lost consciousness while driving his Scion. The out of control vehicle then jumped the curb and ran through a fence before damaging a resident's house. Police have attributed the accident to inhalant abuse.

The two passengers were assess for injuries at a local hospital. The man was admitted to a substance abuse facility.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arrested for Inhalant Abuse in Oshkosh

From the Northwestern.com in Wisconsin (May 17th)

Earlier this week in Oshkosh, a 21 year old woman was taken to the hospital and then when police determined she had been "huffing", she was arrested for "intentionally abusing a hazardous substance."

Canadian Town Ponders What To Do About Inhalant Abuse

From The CBC News (May 17):

"A lot of people believe if you talk about it you're going to make it happen, and that's proven not to be the case," an addiction counselor says rationalizing a reservation's silence about inhalant abuse. Under the cover of night, Canadian police have seen minors sniffing fumes from propane tanks. Less than two weeks ago, a girl was admitted for burns after the gas ignited during a binge. Last month, a 14 year old girl died while sniffing propane fumes.

The resulting picture has caused Southend officials to think hard about their anti-drug responses. Inhalant abuse incidents receded following the fatal sniffing accident, but this is a persistent problem in the Saskatchewan community. "We don't need to hide it," he said. "We are the people that are suffering..."

For now, officials are encouraging a dialogue that starts at home. The addiction counselor recommends a simple, yet oft-skipped stop,"[Talk] with kids about it early enough that they know that certain chemicals were never meant to be in your body."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lostgirl: A Sister's Story

My sister was born on November 1, 1972, and from what our mother told me, she was a delightful baby. I came along two and a half years later, and from my earliest memories, we always shared a wonderful sisterly bond. Of course we had our moments when those hormones kicked in during our teenage years, and we fought like cats and dogs. But we were always there for each other.

In my early teens, I went through my rebellious stage. I dabbled in drinking, smoking, and some light drug use, but I never got addicted to anything. My sister, however, never dabbled with anything. She was a straight A student, a member of all the “nerd” clubs (as my friends and I called them). She could pull an A with no struggle, while I had to work my tail off for a C. She was just naturally smart, and I always felt she was Mom’s favorite. I even ran away from home once, leaving our mother a note saying, “You still have the good child, you don’t need me anymore.”
Eventually, though, we were both on good paths. I had overcome my rebellion and actually wanted to graduate high school. My sister was in her first year of college, studying Early Childhood Education. Then things changed.

After only two semesters of college, my sister got pregnant. She quit school, and she and her boyfriend married. I really don’t know why she didn’t go back to college after her son was born; maybe she felt that it was more than she could handle. Instead, she worked in daycare centers and seemed to love it. Then things changed even more.

Her marriage was falling apart, and she started running around with a friend who had gotten into drugs. Looking back, I think at this point in my sister’s life she was both weak and curious. She started doing drugs with her friend, and it got really bad. She couldn’t get off the drugs, and it became very apparent that she had an addictive personality. She and her husband got divorced, and she almost lost her son. About that time, our mother went into a deep depression. I was just starting college and wanted to do well. I didn’t understand my mother’s struggles, and I didn’t understand why my sister couldn’t shake her addiction. I was angry with both of them.
A couple of years passed, and my sister met someone else and had another child, a daughter. She was still using drugs, and my mother was still depressed. I was doing great in college, and about to graduate.

Then came Friday, October 31, 1997. That morning I got ready to leave for my job at Gap Kids. My mother had not been to work all week because she was so depressed. I went into her room and woke her. I told her to get up and please feel better, and said, “I love you.” When I came home that evening, I found my mother in her car, in our garage, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. I clearly remember the police asking me, “Do you have any idea why your mother would have done something like this?” “Yes,” I replied, “because of my sister.”

To this day I am thankful that my sister was not there and was not the one to find our mom. I was able to calm myself down before my sister arrived, and never once spoke of my feelings to her. I never let her know I wanted to blame her at the time. I knew it would destroy her. And later I learned that you can’t blame anyone for a suicide except the one who does it. We were both very angry with our mom for leaving us like that, and we both went through counseling. I thought this would be enough to get my sister to stop her drug abuse, but it wasn’t. She continued to use, and even tried to take her own life in the same manner our mother did.

What a dark time this was in our lives. I didn’t know how to help my sister; I never did. And she was showing all the signs of depression our mother had. Eventually my sister did go into rehab and got better. She married her daughter’s father and all seemed to be well. She even went back to school, this time for a paralegal degree. Then, just shy of her graduation, she had another relapse and was back in rehab. But again, she came out and seemed fine and graduated with honors. We were all so proud of her. A few years passed. I worked for a few years, then married and started my own family. We moved around the east a bit and then finally settled in Pennsylvania. In the midst of my own happiness, there was a part of me that felt bad for leaving my sister. Although I was the younger sister, I felt like I needed to keep an eye on her and make sure she was doing okay. I struggled with this for some time. But she seemed to be doing well, enjoying her husband and children, although I knew she still struggled with depression.

Then, one day in the summer of 2009, when she called I could tell something was wrong. I could hear it in her voice. She had spoken of some problems in her marriage before, but something within me knew this was different. I immediately booked a flight and flew home to see her. It was a good visit, but I sensed an awkwardness—nobody in the family was really talking about anything. She had told me before I came not mention anything to her husband about the issues in their marriage. And all my father really said to me was that my sister really needed me right now.

About two weeks later my sister called to tell me she was in rehab again. She finally told me she had used computer duster to get high. I was shocked. Why would she do something so stupid? Well, for a former drug user, this is an easy, cheap, and legal way to get high. However, at the time I didn’t really understand. I thought it was just another cry for help because she was depressed and unhappy in her marriage.

To be honest, I was tired of all her drama. I just wanted her to get better and be happy again. We had some family conference calls over the phone and she finally came to the decision that she was going to go back home, try to work on her marriage, seek Christian counseling, and she wouldn’t use this canned air stuff again. I was only aware of her using it one time, so I thought this was a reasonable solution. Slowly, my sister started healing. I could hear it in her voice. She was going to counseling, had starting attending church, and was even looking for a part-time job. It was tough for her for a little while, I could tell. But she was different. I could just feel it. And after several months she did find a part-time job in retail and seemed to be enjoying life.
I was so happy for her. And I could finally relax. I didn’t feel bad about moving so far away from her, and thought everything was going to be good again. I had my sister back.

On the Sunday after Christmas, December 27, 2009, we talked about my plans to come south in March to visit and celebrate my younger daughter’s second birthday. I told her that I wished she could fly up for a few days and visit and just be together like old times. She told me she wished she could, but with her new job, and money spent on Christmas, she just didn’t see how it could work out. I told her I understood, and at least I would see her in March. The next day would change my life forever.

On Monday afternoon, my girls were up from their naps and we were listening to music, keeping cozy and warm on that cold December day. About 4:30, my husband walked through the door. I remember thinking, Great, he is home early! He took me aside and said, “I have some bad news,” and went on to tell me that my sister had died of an overdose. I was completely in shock, and yet there was a small part of me that had thought this day would come. It was just a matter of when. My sister died of what is known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. She had been inhaling duster, and the inhalant causes the heart to beat rapidly and results in cardiac arrest. I learned later that she had been caught by her family numerous times using the inhalant. No one had ever shared this with me. I only wish I had known the seriousness of it. I wish I had known she was using when I went home to visit her in the summer of 2009. I could have talked with her about it. But nobody shared her struggles, not even her.

About three months after her death I decided to research inhalant abuse. I found a Web site, www.inhalant.org. Then I remembered her telling me that she had met a friend through a support website about inhalants. And sure enough, as I read through old postings on the site, I found my sister. She signed herself simply “lostgirl.”

She wrote for the first time on May 28, 2009, seven months prior to her death: “I have been on various drugs and this is on the same level as crack if not worse because it is legal.”
Another post, “I think the show ‘Intervention’ about Allison gave a lot of people the idea of huffing the duster spray. I know it put it in the back of my head, and when I had nothing else and was feeling lonely, I bought it.” Two days later she wrote, “I was alone and wanted to get duster . . . I kept telling myself life is so much more worth it. And I kept picturing my husband and kids. The thing is I know where it is, heck, I know where cases of it are.” In her last post, just thirteen days before she would die, my sister wrote, “Please, reach out . . . it’s worth your life.”

I am reaching out for her, my lostgirl. It is too late for me to help her, but what I can do now is tell her story.
~ ~
Please seek help if you are addicted to inhalants. Talk to your family. Seek help from an online or other support group. I lost my sister to something you can buy over the counter. I am still amazed how common this problem is, and it needs to be addressed. What you can do as a parent, teacher, relative, or friend is look for the warning signs. I couldn’t see them in my sister because I lived so far away, and because I had no idea what was going on. But knowing what I know now, I heard the signs through the phone. I spoke with her once and her speech was slurred; she had probably been using. She would tell me she fell a lot and had lots of bruises; she chalked it up to being clumsy. She also once told me she was going to the doctor because she slipped and fell and injured her lip. It had caused her to get blisters; I questioned this one, but she just said it had gotten infected.

All of these things are warning signs of inhaling computer dusting spray. There are many products out there that can be abused. Other warning signs of inhalant abuse can be glossed-over eyes, mood changes, and, for teenagers, a decreased interest in school. Also be aware of material lying around the house that may come up missing, such as paint-soaked rags, spray paint cans, or any other household products.

The best thing you can do for someone you think may be using is communicate with them. It could save their life. Some stores will require ID and that you be 18 years of age to purchase computer dusting spray. My sister was 37. How did that help her?

Sister of “Lostgirl”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Man Found Dead, Inhalants The Culprit

From WJBD Radio (May 15):

On Friday night, a man came home to find his roommate laying unconscious and face down. A can of duster sat ominously in his hand. The roommate attempted CPR to no avail and the coroner delivered the difficult news- he was dead.

The death was ruled accidental and the coroner did not plan to conduct an autopsy. The Illinois man's inhalant abuse was known as he was scheduled to start rehab today.

Teens Released, Recovered From Huffing Incident

From The Marshall County Tribune (May 11):

"What happened is not smart," a detective said. "All recovered. All made a complete recovery and are talking." The detective's sentiments echo those of parents, professionals, and pupils across the United States. Still, Tennessee medical staff at the state hospitals treated and released three teens who wanted cheap, easy high.

The medical intervention underscored the possible side effects associated with misusing any product. While their hunt for a high was short-lived, the teens had to stay overnight. Police are investigating the incident.

Huffing Driver Causes $10,000 In Damages

From The Lumina News (May 14):

A teenage driver survived on a ride to remember after walking away from a potential fatal car crash. The 19-year old lost consciousness while driving a car police suspect hit 70 miles per hour before heading off the road. Her vehicle, which was carrying two passengers, hit a mulch patch crossed the median prior to smashing into a tree. After the car crashed at an estimate 45 miles per hour, she attempted to flee the scene fearing she would receive another DWI charge.

Police responded to the scene and arrested the woman who had abused duster in the moments leading up to the crash. All three occupants were taken to hospital for care. Although released on bond to her mother, the driver caused $10,000 in damage to the vehicle. The most recent report said one person is still in the hospital.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Texas Police Arrest Two On Huffing Charges, Suspect Trend

From the Kerrville Daily Times (May 12):

Police in a Texas town suspect a local increase in inhalant abuse following an uptick in arrests during the last few weeks. There was more evidence for that claim when officers nabbed two people for huffing offenses early this week. The first, a 14-year old boy, tried to inhale the contents of an air horn because a friend told him it would make "his voice deep and dizzy". He was detained at local juvenile detention center.

The second incident involved a 28-year old male who alleged attacked residents after he became high. An officer familiar with the case said the man did not appear to be impair but he did have "inhalant paraphernalia", a Class B misdemeanor.

California: 'Huff' and Tumble Drive Leads To Arrest

From the Lodi News-Sentinel (May 10):

California police were in for a busy Monday afternoon as reports of several hit-and-run crashes lit up their scanners. The suspect, a 30-year old resident, first rear-ended another while driving 20 mph over the speed limit. He then fled the scene only to drive into a dining area of a retirement home. Assisted living officials say the crash was minutes away from seriously injuring residents.

In both cases, the vehicle was nowhere to be found when police arrived on the scene. A call from a Best Buy fence crash had police hot on the driver's trail. He was finally apprehended at the assisted living facility.

Despite his body-jarring forays, the man was not seriously injured although he claimed to be in pain. Police arrested the man on suspicion of DUI.

Update: Huffing Death Leaves A Town In Mourning

From News14 (May 5):

The North Carolina high school whose senior student died three weeks ago remembered the young man last week. A hang-mast flag somberly reminded that life is fleeting and drug use can shorten it in an instant.

Last month we reported the 17-year old died the car he was in went out of control. The teenage driver had huffed duster prior to getting behind the wheel. Police suspect the resulting impairment was the sole reason the vehicle crashed.

Health professionals used the opportunity to admonish parents and students about inhalant abuse. "If you're a parent or schoolteacher, watch for markings on the hand of young students," a substance abuse professional said "Are there markings around the mouth? Do they look like they're slurring their speech?" These warning signs are difference between life and death as some users die from Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome.

As the community mourns, charges are still pending for the 18-year old driver.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New York Looks At DWI Laws, May Add Inhalants

From Empire State News (May 5):

The New York legislature will review a law that redefines DWI offenses. The Governor endorsed the measure, noting the 9,000 drunk driving related accidents in that state each year. These crashes result in an estimated 400 deaths. Under the proposal, second time offenders could face 10 years in prison, double the current maximum sentence.

Notably, the legislation will expanded the driving while intoxicated definition to include inhalants. The bill, building on "Leandra's Law", would mandate that offenders install an ignition interlock device. The mechanism requires the driver to breath into it before the vehicle will start. Attempts to tamper with the device are punishable.

Millburn Police Charge Huffer With Possession

From The New York Times blog (May 1):

The Millburn's police blotter says a New Jersey resident was headed for trouble on Saturday. In broad daylight, police confronted the women in a local parking lot. It is believed West Orange resident had marijuana and an inhalant on her person at the time. Police arrested and charged her with possession of both.

Man Sentenced In Huffing Accident

From The Grand Island Independent (May 7):

A judge sentenced a 20-year old man for a DUI incident near school grounds. The defendant abused inhalants and drove his vehicle erratically in the surrounding area. The drive took him through a school playground at one point. The car finally came to a stop after slamming into a truck with enough force to hit another truck that hit a building hard enough to make it tilt. No one was injured in the incident.

The man was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $400.

Illinois: Governor Reviews Inhalant Abuse Bill

From The Pantagraph (May 4):

The Governor's desk the last stop for legislation that will make inhalant abuse less friendly in the sentencing phases. A recent thumbs-up from the both House and Senate brings the bill one step closer to becoming the updated law of the land. The bill would allow first-time offenders to enroll in substance abuse counseling. Officials who continual see the same people abusing inhalants hope the state's rehabilitative approach will stifle repeat offenders from coming back.

DUI Driver: I Am Not Guilty

From KFMB 760AM (May 5):

Point Loma residents are holding their breath as a potentially landmark case goes to court. The December 31, 2009 accident left the defendant injured and a 9-year old girl with brain damage. Her injuries prompted doctors to advise the child's parents against prolonged life support. She died 12 days after the intersection collision. Accounts suggest the defendent was traveling as fast as 70 miles per hour at the time of the accident.

The accused is pleading not guilty to a DUI charge despite traces of difluoroethane on his breath. This chemical is only found in commercially produced products and is not naturally occurring. If he is found guilty, the defendent faces a 16 year sentence. If he is found not guilty, the case will stand as a precedent for future inhalant-related DUI defenses.

Huffing May Have Caused Carolina Crash

From WBTV3.com (May 3):

A recently released warrant implicates inhalants in a North Carolina crash last month. The duo reportedly stole several cans of duster during two trips to Wal-Mart on April 24. After passing out from huffing at home, the mother of one of the boys put the cans away. The account says the boys, as well as their friends, were drinking and smoking marijuana at the house.

Around 2 a.m. on April 25 the two boys left to pick up a girlfriend. Less than two hours later, their car ran off the road and into a tree. Neither boy was wearing a seat belt and suffered life threatening injuries as a result. One boy died while the other remained under close observation at the hospital.

While the mother has not been charged, she has since moved from out of her home.