Thursday, January 11, 2007

Huffing: Tales of trouble


Justin Conner's vehicle bears the scars of a run-in with a utility pole. Conner, 17, Dorchester, and a passenger, Stefan Sova, 16, Staplehurst, sustained injuries in the collision. Both teens were abusing inhalants, or "huffing," at the time.
by Stephanie Croston
Although it may not seem dangerous, huffing can be fatal.
Seward County has seen at least three vehicle accidents within the past two months in which the teens involved were huffing. Huffing involves spraying an aerosol product into the mouth and inhaling.
The first accident involving teens who were huffing happened Nov. 21 when a vehicle drove into the front of Hall of Cards in downtown Seward.
The second happened Dec. 22 between 6 and 6:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Justin Conner, 17, of Dorchester was driving that car after huffing for the first time.
"It gives a high and a buzz," Conner said.
Despite that, he felt in control. But he doesn't remember hitting the power pole at the fairgrounds, saying he blacked out.
"We hit so hard, it knocked down power lines," he said.
Conner's jaw hit the steering wheel and his head hit the windshield. Everything in the car shifted to the right upon impact.
Stefan Sova, 16, of Staplehurst was one of the three passengers in the vehicle. He said he had been huffing for a couple months after a friend convinced him to try it. He had also blacked out just before impact.
"I woke up to (my friend) screaming, 'We're going to hit the pole,'" he said.
Sova said his seat unlocked and went forward. He ended up with a broken rib and punctured lung. Both Conner and Sova were wearing seat belts.
Sova said the buzz gives a person a "wierd feeling." For him, his voice deepened, sounds echoed and lights popped in his eyes. When he turned his head, he saw a "freeze-frame effect" where images blurred across his vision.
The effect lasts five to 10 minutes, but Sova said it's not addictive.
"When I look back, it's kind of dumb," he said. "It's cheap and easy."
The Seward rescue squad took Sova to the emergency room, where he was treated by Drs. Hank Newburn and Barbara Froehner.
Inhaling an aerosol product may have other consequences, too. "It could freeze your tongue if it's too close," Conner said.
"Doctors say it could mess you up later and give you mini-strokes," Sova said.
Sova said his friends have stopped huffing, and he won't do it again.
"It's not worth it," he said.
Conner gave the same warning.
"Don't do it," Conner said. "It messes with your brain."
Taken from SCI Online