Friday, November 09, 2007

Boys in killer craze mercy dash!


TWO schoolboys took a potentially lethal cocktail of solvents and alcohol and were rushed to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness at the weekend.
One of the lads, who was found lying unconscious in a Smithton street, was in such a critical condition he was placed on a ventilator.
The incident in the early hours of Saturday morning has sparked fears that a craze which was thought less common amongst teenagers could be on the rise again.
And a city drugs worker said the youngsters were playing "Russian roulette" with their lives. Sniffing and "gas bombing" (blasts of aerosol gases into the mouth) can cause heart failure, suffocation and choking.
However, health professionals and drugs workers have been left even more concerned at the boys' actions as there was evidence they had also been drinking alcohol – creating a potentially deadly double effect.
It is believed the teenagers in the weekend drama, who have not been named but were both 15 years old, were friends had been drinking and also experimenting with the substances which can cause hallucination.
One boy was found by a passer-by lying in Smithton Park in the early hours of Saturday morning. It is believed his friend was found in the same area although he was conscious.
Chief Inspector Donald Henderson said: "In the early hours of November 3, there were a couple of youths who were admitted to Raigmore Hospital having mixed solvents with alcohol. The two cases were connected. One of the boys was found lying in a roadway in Smithton.
"The condition of the boys was serious and one of them was on a ventilator. They have since been discharged.
"It transpires they have taken a substance which is readily available and have been consuming alcohol as well.
"I want to warn people of the dangers of mixing substances with alcohol and the potential danger to their lives."
Whilst Ch Insp Henderson would not confirm whether there was anyone else involved in the incident, he added: "I would regard any person that procures such substances for youngsters as being wilful and reckless in their conduct.
"If it is found that a third party is involved then I will have them prosecuted for wilful or reckless conduct."
Police would not reveal which substances the boys were experimenting with but common solvents abused are easily accessible household items such as glue, cigarette lighter refills, aerosols and cleaning products.
John Glenday, shared care/harm reduction co-ordinator for NHS Highland explained: "Solvent use is particularly hazardous when combined with alcohol, which can seriously increase harmful toxic effects such as dizziness, slurred speech, loss of co-ordination, unconsciousness and coma.
"During 2005 there were 45 deaths associated with solvent abuse in the British Isles. It is important that everyone is aware of these dangers."
Margaret Henderson, training and development officer with Blast drugs project based on the city's Church Street, revealed: "We call experimenting with solvents the loaded gun as you can do it just once and die.
"However, solvents and alcohol are both depressants. By taking them at the same time, your body is getting a double dose of a depressant which is effectively closing your body down."
She added: "This is a hidden problem. It was always thought that it was going out of fashion but, sadly, it is coming back."
Nikki Fraser, manager of Blast, added it was alarming that the boys were so young as she more commonly sees older people getting involved in this type of abuse.
She said: "Solvent abuse is Russian roulette. People don't realise the first time they do this could be their last. Solvent abuse on its own is bad enough, but there are other risks if they are taking alcohol as well as this seriously alters judgment."
She added: "It is very worrying that these boys have done this as they are so young."
* Anyone who wants further information and support on solvent abuse can contact Re-Solv National Helpline on 01785 810762 or visit their websites: http://www.re-solv.org/ or http://www.sniffing.org.uk/.
A list of local alcohol and drug agencies can be found on the Highland Drug and Alcohol Action Team website at http://www.hdaat.org.uk/

By Claire Doughty in the Highland News