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Meher Ahmad
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Seeking new highs, teens share prescription drugs.
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TEENS RECALL HOW HUFFING LED TO ADDICTION

Youths, now receiving treatment, say inhaling was easy to do but soon took over their lives
May 26, 2009

Teenagers’ abuse of drugs is nothing new. Since the drug epidemic in the ’60s, countless students – from cheerleaders to goths – have been known to experiment with some sort of illegal drug.

 

The Manlove family

By Katie McDowell, 16

Marissa ManloveIt was a beautiful June day in 2001 when Marissa Manlove received a call from a fellow parent that Manlove’s 16-year-old son, David, had drowned in the family’s pool. She rushed over and found paramedics attempting to revive David, who had just finished his sophomore year at Lawrence Central High School.
 
David and a friend had huffed, or inhaled, the propellant from a can of computer cleaner. David decided to go underwater while using the aerosol to intensify the high. Instead, he went into cardiac arrest.
 
In the almost eight years since David’s death, his parents continue to raise awareness of inhalants and addiction in general. The Manloves have told David’s story to “Good Morning America” and to many school and nonprofit youth groups. In addition, Kim Manlove is project director of a five-year federal grant to prevent substance abuse and addiction in Indiana.
 
The couple also has created of The 24 Group, a nonprofit organization devoted to educating people about addiction and recovery, named in honor of David’s baseball number. The group will be hosting its fourth annual Hawk Walk Oct. 17 on the Monon Trail in Carmel.

 

Although statistics have showed a slight decline in inhalants use in recent years, the Manloves believe it is still imperative that teens and parents be aware of the dangers. Users can die after a history of inhalant use or the first time they try it.
 
Kim ManloveAnd it isn’t just angry, alienated youth who try inhalants. “David really didn’t present like the stereotype of a kid who was addicted,” Kim Manlove said. “He wasn’t angry.  He wasn’t mean. He didn’t have these mood swings that we always kind of thought of what a drug-addicted teenager would be. He continued to be a warm and loving and affectionate kid.”

ASSISTANT EDITORS: Meher Ahmad, 18; Laura Cockman, 16; Ariana Gainer, 14.

REPORTERS: Sam Clark, 12; Aaron Johnson, 11.

 

By Ariana Gainer, 14

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports a decrease in inhalant youth among teens despite the fact that they are easily accessible.
 
The name “inhalants” derives from the way these products are abused. When some common items are sniffed or inhaled, the user receives a short-term feeling of euphoria. Common abused items include:
 
Gases – propane tanks, whipped cream bottles
 
Aerosols – hair spray, computer cleaner, spray paint
 
Volatile solvents – gasoline, felt-tipped marker liquid, glue, paint thinner
 
More than 1,400 known substances can be abused by inhaling, or huffing. Creative addicts have been known to abuse products such as:
 
deodorant
candles
cooking spray
colored markers

However, finding drugs is usually problematic – you either have to know a drug dealer or know someone who knows someone.

 

But teens in search of a high don’t have to look beyond their homes and garages. Aerosol products – from cleaning products to deodorants – offer some teens a “legal,” though potentially deadly, buzz. Almost 1 million youths ages 12 to 17 used inhalants in 2007, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That is a slight decrease from 2006, when 1.1 million youth reported using inhalants.

 

Ashley, 16, David, 18, and Riley, 15, are former inhalant users. They were recently interviewed at Hope Academy at Fairbanks Hospital, a charter high school for recovering substance abusers. Their last names are omitted to protect their privacy.

 

While none used inhalants as a drug of choice, they said they used them in conjunction with other drugs, or when they couldn’t find anything else.

 

“It was the easiest thing to get a hold of,” David explained. “I mean, just in the bathroom you can use Glade, like the air freshener. Go out to the garage and you can get gas. That was a big thing that I used.”

“It’s the easiest drug. You can use it over and over again,” added Riley. “There’s always a can wherever you go. I think the three biggest things I used were body spray, gasoline and air freshener.”

 

For the teens, inhalant use came long after they had already abused other drugs.

 David started using drugs at age 13, after he found out his mom was smoking marijuana. His favorite drug became OxyContin and he said he started using inhalants to intensify the high. “The reason I got started was that I saw my friend doing it and he asked me if I wanted to try it,” he said.

 

Riley’s family also had a history of drug abuse. He began with cigarettes and alcohol at age 8 after seeing his older brother abuse drugs, and then he started using them, too.

 

Ashley also had drug users in her family and started using at age 11. “My substance abuse started with smaller drugs and went into bigger ones,” she explained.  A boyfriend introduced her to inhalants.

 

The teens used inhalants to enhance the effects of other substances, including marijuana, OxyContin, cocaine and alcohol.

 

“I got different highs depending on what else I was on,” said David. “One time I had smoked some pot and then huffed some gas, and it totally made me start hallucinating.”

 

Huffing has plenty of drawbacks. Headaches and hallucinations are common, as are chapped and bleeding lips. It also can cause an irregular heartbeat, which can be fatal. Long-term use can result in brain damage.

 

Ashley said she became violent while under the influence of inhalants and often was unable to control her drooling.

 

After one instance of overdosing on gasoline, Riley began bleeding out of his nose. “I almost bled out,” he said.

Despite these drawbacks, the teens became addicted, using more drugs, more inhalants. “I got to the point where I was doing it every day. It’s like all you’re focused on,” said David, “I didn’t care if it was safe or not.”

 

Riley would use inhalants for up to six hours a day; Ashley admitted to using two or three cans of inhalants per day at her worst point. 

Not surprising, drug use changed their lives.

“I was a cheerleader for a long time, and when I went into 9th grade I made varsity, and I quit on the first day of practice ’cause they asked me to take a drug test,” Ashley said.

Riley and David also quit playing sports, and all reported that their grades dropped. David said he spent most of his time in school asleep or taking drugs in the bathroom.

Friends changed as the teens moved away from old acquaintances to other drug users.

“All my friends changed as soon as I started doing drugs.  All of them were heavy users,” said Riley."

 

The teens said they got to the point where they didn’t even try to hide their drug use. For Riley and Ashley, there was no need, since many of their family members used drugs. David’s parents found out only after he was arrested.

 

“I kept it hidden until then, and then from there I just really didn’t care.  I was pretty open about it,” he said.

 

As casual use became addiction, all three found themselves in trouble at school and with police.

 

“I started breaking into the houses when I was 10, and I got arrested since I was 10,” said Riley. “All my family I’ve stolen from.  I’ve stolen from my church, stolen from both my grandpas.”

 

Riley spent less and less time in school as a result of his suspensions, and he would spend that time getting high. Ashley was arrested multiple times on charges of possession and public indecency.

 

“I probably always knew that I had a problem, but it got apparent when I was getting arrested,” she said.

 

After another arrest, Ashley was given the choice of treatment or jail. So was Riley. They both chose treatment.

 

It also was an arrest that stopped the downward spiral for David.

 

“What brought me here to Hope Academy was that I was out behind an abandoned house, huffing gas out of a can. And this lady saw me and she called the police, and the police came up and they thought I was trying to burn the house down and pulled a gun on me.  And I was like ‘No, I was getting high,’ and so they took me to the hospital to make sure I was OK and I wasn’t. Then when I got out, my parents sent me here to the Hope Academy,” he said.

 

Since they’ve entered recovery, these teens have found encouragement from their families but not from their friends.

 

“My family’s been very supportive, but a lot of my friends just kind of left me behind,” said Ashley.

 

They say rehab has given them new perspectives and shown them that living involves more than just getting high.

 

“It just it taught me how to live again pretty much and how to treat people, and it just helped me all around put myself back together,” Ashley said.

They also found that there is pleasure in sobriety. “My worst day sober was better than my best day high,” David said.

 

ASSISTANT EDITORS: Katie McDowell, 16; Ariana Gainer, 14.

REPORTERS: Sam Clark, 12; Aaron Johnson, 11.

 

 Copyright 2009 Y-Press

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