State and local officials recently sent out a warning about the dangers of synthetic marijuana that’s being sold legally in some stores. One medical expert says that isn’t the only thing parents should worry about kids smoking or inhaling. Dr. Thomas McAuliff, the director of the Children’s Emergency Center at Mercy Hospital, says it’s not a new problem.
He says you can go back into the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and see kids were inhaling things back then. Today they are inhaling things like bath salts and other substances. “The problem is that they are readily available, and the problem is that people are experimenting with them and trying them for the first time, and the sad thing is that first-time users may have the worst experience of all,” McAuliff says. McAuliffe says those who inhale substances on a regular basis find they have to keep upping their amount.
“When you inhale a substance like this, it’s very quick and it doesn’t last very long,” according the McAuliffe. “People know that so they take a lot more. They take a lot more huffs, or a lot more puffs or a lot more sniffs.”
People are inhaling a lot of different materials to try and get their high. He says they use cleaning products for computers, and other substances that we use in our homes that contain the additives people want to huff. Freon found in air conditioners has also been used to get a high. “That’s one of the new and more commonly used things used in the summer now, people are pulling the tubing off air conditioning units and inhaling that right in your own back yard,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said the evidence of huffing is showing up more and more in young people who come to the emergency room. “We’re seeing symptoms now that are make us suspect inhalant usage, whereas before I might see a sixth grader with a seizure and I might tell you ‘well let’s find another cause for it’…now inhalants are on my list,” McAuliffe said. He says he’s seeing more drug screens done for possible inhalants that he has seen in his 25 years of practice.
McAuliffe said recent surveys showed very few parents are aware that their child might be inhaling substances to get high.