Health Team

'Huffing' Growing Danger Among Children

It's time to check some of the toxic chemicals in your home. A survey finds more American kids are using toxic inhalants to get high.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Super glue, nail polish, hair spray may all look innocent enough, but kids are using those common items to get high. A new report found more than a million adolescents took part in "huffing" over the past year.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health said the problem is growing especially among girls.

"(Females are) more likely than male counterparts to use glue, shoe polish or toluin, spray paints, aerosol sprays and other spray paints," said Dr. Wesley Clark with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Like any drug, household chemicals can be deadly. Mona Casey's 15-year-old son, Charles, died last year from inhaling freon.

"He won't get to experience the beauty of falling in love, getting married and having children," she said.

Many of the inhalants that kids use have hydrocarbons. When those compounds are drawn into the lungs, they enter the brain, creating a feeling of intoxication. Dr. Theodore Bania, of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, said too much "huffing" can wreak havoc on the body.

"It can result in brain damage, it can result in liver damage, it can result in kidney damage," Bania said.

Experts say the best thing parents can do is talk to their kids about it. Dan Coates said he wishes he had that conversation with his son, Brady. Last year, Brady died tying to get high off of butane.

"It's not a drug. It's poison and our kids need to understand that these chemicals that are in our kitchens, our garages, out buildings, they can all take your life in a matter of minutes," Coates said.



Allen Mask, M.D., Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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