Police see surge in teen inhalant abuse - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Police see surge in teen inhalant abuse

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Roanoke police are working to inform parents and business owners about a recreational drug known as Whip-its or Huffing. It's when people take items such as aerosol spray cans and inhale the fumes. Inhalants have been a problem for years and police believe the craze is making a comeback among people ages 12-17.

While collecting trash along the Blue Ridge Parkway, volunteers were surprised to find more than 600 whipped cream cans. At first glance it seemed like a litter problem. However, the chemicals found inside the containers could put kids lives at risk.

"The are called Whip-its" said Capt. Rick Morrison, Roanoke City Police. "People take the whipped cream can and push the nozzle and the nitrous oxide comes out instead of the whipped cream. That is where people get your sensation."

Whip-its, or Huffing, has been around for years. It has become a noticeable problem along the Blur Ridge Parkway. Police said the canisters are a cheap and easy way to get high. It can also serve as a gateway drug.

"If the "high" only last for a short period of time people will look for other drugs to extend that feeling which is where the marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin comes in" said Capt. Morrison.

While Captain Morrison said the Blue Ridge Parkway isn't in Roanoke City's jurisdiction, his department is reacting to the hundreds of cans found. First, officers want parents to be aware of the growing issue. He suggests parents take inventory of aerosol spray cans, spray paint, computer cleaners or glue sticks.

Secondly, the Roanoke City Police Department is working closely with store owners to find out if teens are buying aerosol spray cans in bulk.

Side effects of huffing include dizziness, loss of consciousness, nose bleeds and in some cases inhaling poisonous chemicals can lead to death. Nationally, the huffing trend is going down. But it remains a concern. Experts estimate that 40,000 adolescent huff on any given day.

WSLS Photographer Lee Friesland found nearly a dozen whipped cream bottles along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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