Tuesday, August 31, 2010

VSA Headlines: July / August

Thank you for keeping in touch with Re-Solv where, this month, we are pleased to bring you news of the appointment of our new Director, Stephen Ream.


Stories surrounding legal highs may have provided shock headlines in recent months, but the issue is hardly new for Stephen Ream, recently appointed Director of national charity, Re-Solv.

“Re-Solv has been working in the drugs prevention field for 25 years, beginning with the glue-sniffing epidemic of the 1980s” says Ream, formerly Re-Solv’s Information Officer. “Today the biggest challenge is the misuse of aerosols, butane cigarette lighter refills and petrol. It’s known as ‘volatile substance abuse’ or ‘VSA’ and in the past decade alone, it has killed more young people under the age of 15 than all other illegal drugs combined.”

Thanks to years of preventative work, Re-Solv has played a major part in bringing down the number of deaths caused by this kind of legal high, but on average there is still a death a week in the UK. A father of four – and soon to be five - Ream says he is particularly concerned that Re-Solv helps raise awareness among young people about the risks involved in VSA. “Unlike other drugs, VSA can kill instantly and without warning, and there is no way to avoid this risk. Every year it kills young people who are trying VSA for the first time, and it kills people who engage in it regularly. You can think of it as a kind of Russian roulette.”

Last month’s NHS report into smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England justifies Ream’s concerns. It confirms that when children aged 13 or younger first experiment with drugs, they are most likely to engage in VSA. Among the wider 11-15 year-old age group, VSA is second only to cannabis.

This is why, despite the tough economic climate for charities, Ream is confident that Re-Solv’s good work will continue. “We’ve weathered 25 years,” he smiles, “but, more importantly, there is still a great need for the kind of work we do. We may have started out as a charity combating glue-sniffing, but the landscape of legal drug misuse changes, and we’ve adapted with it.” [End]


Here in the UK we are saddened to hear of the death of another young girl from butane gas. 15-year-old Holly Fletcher died in Shildon, County Durham last September. Coroner Andrew Tweddle said: “If there is anything good to come from this then it might just trigger someone else’s mind to think that this is not a good idea." Holly's mother later issued a warning to other teenagers about the deadly effects of solvent abuse and urged them to stay away from drugs.


Mum’s plea after 15-year-old dies sniffing lighter fuel: Bishop Auckland News. A mother whose teenage daughter died after inhaling lighter fuel last night warned other youngsters of the dangers posed by solvent abuse.

Inquest hears of mistake that cost Holly Fletcher her life
: The Journal. A grieving mother last night spoke of her “wonderful, fun-loving daughter who made one tragic mistake”.


Drowning ruled accidental, linked to inhaling aerosal product: Corning Observer (California). 19-year-old Sean Siders’ death has been ruled accidental although it also has been linked to his inhaling of an aerosol product not long before his death.

Man accused of huffing before buggy crash death
: Wausau Daily Herald (Wisconsin). A 50-year-old man accused of inhaling from an aerosol can shortly before he crashed into an Amish buggy — killing an infant — was sentenced today to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Local Officials Behind New Huffing Law: WSIL TV (Southern Illinois). A new law backed by local legislators and prosecutors brings stiffer penalties to those who huff chemicals.


Substance abuse risk warning: Police and health workers yesterday issued a stark warning of the dangers of substance abuse after the death of a teenage boy at a party.

Dubai Police to crack down on butane abuse: An intensive campaign will be launched to curb this new problem in Dubai where minors are found to be inhaling lethal gas such as butane to get high.