Most people when they hear of huffing, they think of glue and paint and when you hear of teenagers huffing your reaction was probably like mine would have been a year ago. “Oh yeah I’ve heard of that, but I don’t have to worry about it. My teenagers are too smart to do something so stupid”. Besides that there is no huffing paraphernalia in my house!
Oh yes I can freely admit that I was like a lot of parents, really quite in the dark about what inhalant abuse meant. I usually associated the term with a mental picture of the “crass idiots” that sat slumped over in the seedy alleys of our town.
What I now know is inhalant abuse and huffing paraphernalia is a very different thing than simply sniffing glue or paint fumes; not only that, it is not just the wild indigent people of life or the seedy low lives that we envision as we compare them to our own child. No, anyone can get into huffing. Huffing and huffing paraphernalia hit very close to home one year and though the circumstances were devastating for me it opened my eyes to what my teens may be doing.
My friend Christine was happily married; she had two teenage children, one boy and a girl. She was in all ways, just like me. At least up until the day, her son Paul was arrested for huffing and driving. The community was stunned. How could this happen and how could we as parents missed it? She tore into her son with words, trying to find out what and how it happened. She was met with, “I’m sorry Mom, this was my first time, I swear it, I promise I will never do it again.”
Oh yes the parental ahh and oohh flowed freely then. He was cured. He was caught, this incident was over. Yes, right here someone should have come up and slapped “dumb parents walking” on our foreheads.”
A month later Christine got a phone call that her son was in the hospital, he had been caught huffing. She slammed the phone down and had ripped into his room, looking for anything that might be considered huffing paraphernalia. What was he huffing? She looked everywhere and what she found shocked her. In the closet, under his bed, in the drawers, were cans of air freshener, household cleaners, there was whip cream cans, nail polish, paint cans and baggies. How could she have missed all this huffing paraphanelia?
I got the phone call from Christine after spending days in the hospital with her son, he simply could not recover from the huffing he had done. Her son was dead. More than her son Paul died that night. The innocence of a whole community did and hopeful the impact on the teens of this town were well felt.