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Kimberly Houk ReportingAnother form of drug abuse is gaining momentum in America. One study suggests Utah exceeds the national average in the practice of "huffing".
Huffing is a term used to describe the inhaling harmful vapors that are most commonly found in household cleaning supplies. Everything from Clorox to Scrubbing Bubbles can be used to get a high for just several minutes. It's an abuse that's easily hidden from parents.
Computer duster, a common business product, is also a common drug of choice for Utah's teens.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: “Parents need to be aware and always on the lookout for signs of substance abuse.”
But what if the signs are hard to detect? The high only lasts for minutes, but younger kids are giving it a try, sniffing everything from glue to cigarette lighter fluid.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: “Paint thinner, white out, whipped cream – the aerosol in whipped cream.”
While it's obvious to parents to not leave drugs lying around the house, what they might not know are the hidden dangers sitting in places where kids can easily get to -- cleaning supplies found under your kitchen sink are killing kids.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: "They can get it in their parents’ home, the neighbor's home, maybe grandma's house."
Easily available and cheap--kids as young as fourth graders start "huffing" as part of a popular fad.
Statistics show 20-percent of Utah's kids between the ages of 13 and 19 have experimented with inhaling chemical vapors. Chronic use can cause permanent changes in their brains that may one day lead to death.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: "Inhalants can cause death by suffocation. What happens is a substance you are inhaling replaces the oxygen in your system."
Several kids across the nation have recently died after inhaling, and while narcotic use is down in Utah, huffing is up.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: "We're below the national average in everything, except inhalants."
It's a problem parents seem to know little about. But one clue they can watch for is a strong chemical odor on their child's breath or clothing, or a constantly red and runny nose. And watch for hidden aerosol cans.
B.J. VanRoosendaal, Substance Abuse Counselor: "Unless they were heavy into it, you might not be aware."