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Friday, October 07, 2005 

Story Date: 10/6/2005 8:07:45 AM

Jonesboro police see increase in inhalant abuse among teens

By Stan Mitchell 

JONESBORO -- Police here issued a warning to parents Wednesday concerning a growing problem with teen-agers -- huffing inhalants. 

Kevin Foust, one of the Jonesboro Police Department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officers, said three recent incidents where teen-agers were arrested for inhaling the substances prompted the warning. 

"We are seeing an increase in the use of inhalants locally," Foust said. 

Greg Lawson, also a DARE officer for Jonesboro, said about two months ago a teen-age driver was found passed out at the wheel after having huffed a product used to clean computer keyboards. 

"He made it from the Wal-Mart store on Parker Road where he purchased the stuff to Hasbrook Road before he passed out behind the wheel," Lawson said. "The vehicle was still running with his foot pressed against the brake. The officer found a can of Dust Off between his legs." 

Known as "dusting," the form of huffing takes its name from a computer keyboard cleaner called "Dust Off," the officers said. 

On Sept. 25 an 18-year-old male driver and a 17-year-old male passenger were involved in a 1-vehicle accident near the intersection of Caraway Road and East Matthews Avenue after huffing the substance, Foust continued. 

"They were going north of Caraway Road when they left the roadway and went through the yard at the old fire station at Caraway and Matthews," Foust said. "Their vehicle hit the railroad tracks, went airborne and overturned in a water-filled ditch." 

Foust said the two teens had to be cut out of their wrecked vehicle. 

"The driver was operating his vehicle while huffing the stuff," Foust added. "He was charged with driving while intoxicated." 

The case is still pending in Craighead County District Court in Jonesboro, the officer said. 

In recent weeks the two DARE officers have spoke with local civic groups in an attempt to get the word out to parents. 

"When we tell people kids are huffing this stuff, their mouths literally drop open in disbelief," Foust said. "Most people say they have never heard of this. It's not just gold paint being sprayed into a brown paper bag any more." 

Lawson said law enforcement agencies around the country are reporting problems with teen-agers and inhalants. 

"You can die in two minutes. This stuff can kill you quickly," Lawson said. "You can do it one time, and it can kill you." 

The officers stressed that the effects of the inhalants on a person vary. 

"It can cause brain damage and heart failure by robbing the lungs of oxygen," Foust explained. "It's a very dangerous thing for kids to try." 

Sudden sniffing death is a term used to describe the process of inhaled hydrocarbons causing irregular heart rhythms in the victim, which leads to sudden fatal cardiac arrest in even very young and healthy hearts, Foust said. 


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