It was FIESTA !! The basketball court was rockin’. Beautiful girls and handsome men were everywhere. Laughter and music pulsed through the small village.
I was sitting at a table with my mother-in-law while my wife did her thing on the dance floor. I looked up and a small group of young men came walking out of the darkness. Instinctively, from many years as a nightclub bouncer, I knew these boys were bad news. Individually they looked like everyone else, but as a group they had a sinister “feel” about them. I fell back into my bouncer mode. I started looking for the leader, searching for hidden weapons and trying to identify the trouble maker. There are those that just “talk” and those that are truly dangerous. If there was trouble, I wanted to know who needed to be watched. I glanced at my mother-in-law and she whispered, “Rugby Boys”.
Now I added “sadness’ to my list of feelings about these boys. They were the future of the Philippines and they were committing suicide by millimeters each day. They did not know their future but after years of drug counseling I knew their probable tragic future.
Usually it will start with a rash or sensitivity around the mouth and nose. Later there will be a cough. Sometimes they will cough up blood or small pieces of a sponge like material. Then there will be the nose bleeds. For apparently no reason their nose will suddenly start to bleed. Additional symptoms depend on what they are “huffing” or “sniffing”. Often it will be a quick death (SSDS). They will get pneumonia, have sudden heart failure or simply pass out and drowned in their own vomit. More often it is a long lingering painful death that hurts everyone who cares about them. Their body will be slowly poisoned until the kidneys shut down (renal failure). In addition to destroying the kidneys, “huffing” can destroy the nervous system, the liver and even the brain. For a variety of reasons, some doctors feel that “glue sniffing” is even more dangerous than intravenous use of heroin or “shabu”.
As a parent, how can you tell if your child is “sniffing?” Remember glue is only one of a long list of things these kids use to get high (hypoxia). Often the first sign is the odor of paint, solvents or glue on your child’s skin, clothes or breath. Look for signs of inebriation such as slurred speech, dilated pupils and strange behavior. Check the trash for signs of inhalant misuse. Look for empty solvent containers, tubes or cans or bags with solvent residue inside. (NOTE: I have not listed chemicals that can be used because I do not want to give children a shopping list)
What can you do to get your child to stop inhalant abuse? This behavior is highly addictive. First, get medical attention for your child. Doctors have more experience with the problem and potentially have more credibility. Second, change or monitor your child’s friends. While inhalant abuse can be a solo pastime, it often is a group behavior.
Finally, monitor and challenge your child with new productive activities. Get more involved in your child’s life. Be more than a friend; be a parent. Idle hands and minds are truly the devils playground.