Friday, December 30, 2011

He Started Huffing in Iraq

Via the Idaho Statesman:

A 28 year-old Army veteran first tried huffing computer dusters while stationed in Iraq. This past July 19 he was found in a field, surrounded by 42 cans of computer duster spray that he had stolen from Wal-Mart. The only thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital.

The article points out that a 2008 story “that ran in “Knowledge,” which calls itself the official safety magazine of the U.S. Army, reported that 47 members of the U.S. armed forces had died of inhalant use since 1998, more than half of them soldiers.” It also notes that the Department of Defense issued a release in October 2010 warning soldiers about huffing.

The army veteran says he suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2005 and his prescriptions weren’t helping to ease his headaches so he turned to computer dusters. He points out “It was very prevalent in the military. It’s readily available, and there is no drug test for it. It’s so fast-acting, it doesn’t leave a trace in your blood and urine.”

After reading about the dangers of huffing he stopped but two years later once he returned home he turned to dusters to help relieve PTSD induced nightmares. He quit after his wife threatened to kick him out and got outpatient treatment through the VA but started again after he got divorced.

His parents set him up with inpatient treatment at the VA hospital in Idaho but he soon started huffing once released. Police records show he was charged with “misdemeanor intoxication by inhalation of a toxic substance eight times between April and May” but he didn’t recall much of the incidents so never followed up. It led to jail time on a failure to appear in court which cost him his job and a chance to get back into a VA rehab program. Soon after he was found in the field with the 42 cans of computer dusting spray.

He was released from the hospital and went back to Washington state to get treatment for PTSD. He turned himself in on the burglary charge for the stolen dusters and plead guilty to the lesser charge of misdemeanor petit theft. His message to teens is “Don’t try inhalants. Ever. “I want to be done with it,” he said. “(Huffing) ruined my marriage, it ruined a lot of my friendships. It’s almost ruined my relationship with my parents.”

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