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By Jack Sinclair

Sniffing. Huffing. Inhaling. Call it whatever you want, it's all the same. It's a cheap thrill that is highly addictive and an easy way to die. People have been sniffing for a long time, but it's becoming more and more publicized in the media lately, particularly in areas such as Labrador, where a majority of the youth population are addicted to inhalants.

Sniffing is a problem that has invaded many communities, and not just native communities. In fact, there are statistics in the United States that identify middle class white kids as the biggest users. But the problem isn't what colour your skin is, the problem is that sniffing can kill you - even the first time you try it. If it doesn't kill you, it can cause irreversible brain damage by killing off brain cells.

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is a condition that occurs when an individual inhales the chemical (sniffing) and is then startled. The adrenaline rush places stress on the heart, and as a result many have died from the strain. Sniffing can also cause lung, liver and kidney damage as well as memory, coordination and hearing loss. There are other cases where kids have been sniffing and then got behind the wheel of a car. Like other forms of impairment, it's an invitation for disaster with known cases of drivers passing out, crashing and killing occupants of the car.

I learned the dangers of sniffing the hard way - I lost my best friend, and nobody wanted to talk about it. Talking about the problem is a way to make sure we make some changes and save lives. Ignorance is what kills people and the only way to fight is to start educating.

How do you know when someone around you might be sniffing?

  • Are there an unusual number of empty or missing household product containers?
  • Are there rags or bags that smell of chemicals?
  • Have you noticed paint around the person's face or the smell of chemicals on their clothing?
  • Have you noticed slurred speech, red eyes and/or nose, sores around the mouth, irritability or nausea?

If you see the signs, then don't walk away. You may be the only person who can stop another death from sniffing.

Want more info? Click here to go to Resources.


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