I was back at Malibu High this past Tuesday, and I spent my time talking to the 7th Grade about inhalants. You hear jokes about kids sniffing glue all the time, and you even see funny portrayals of inhalant abuse on TV, but the reality of kids and chemical fumes is actually quite scary.
During the class we screened a couple segments from the Truth About Drugs series. These short 5 minute videos are testimonies from people who found themselves caught up in a cycle of drug abuse. According to the video:
“Inhalants” refers to the vapors from toxic substances which are inhaled to reach a quick high. Of more than 1,000 household and other common products that could be abused as inhalants, most often used are shoe polish, glue, toluene,1 gasoline, lighter fluid, nitrous oxide2 or “whippets,” spray paint, correction fluid, cleaning fluid, amyl nitrite3 or “poppers,” locker room deodorizers or “rush,” and lacquer thinner or other paint solvents.
Most of these produce effects similar to anesthetics, which slow down the body’s functions. After an initial high and loss of inhibition comes drowsiness, light-headedness and agitation.
The chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and quickly reach the brain and other organs, sometimes causing irreversible physical and mental damage.
After screening the video we talked about the damaging effects inhalants can cause to the body and we made distinctions between using your nose to smell things normally and what crossing over the line means. Then we watched another short video story about a boy named Wade that died from inhalant use. Its a very emotional video in which Wade’s father (who happens to be a medical doctor) talks about the day his son passed away.
Finally, I shared the story of Aria Doherty with the class. Aria, a 13 year old student at Nobel Middle School in Northridge, died using inhalants a few years ago. She was an involved student with no history of drug experimentation, but her sister found her in her room after school one night. Its a hard story to hear, but I want to make sure all of the kids understand how dangerous inhalants are.
Writing with a sharpie or painting your nails isn’t dangerous if you are using the products as they are intended, but using chemicals to try to get high is about as bad of a risk that you can take.