Crime in Your Neighborhood: Huffing

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) - While it's not a new trend, it's a dangerous one that continues in the Ozarks; people are using legal products like compressed air, to get high. It's potentially deadly, and more people are doing it, than you probably realize.

It was just a couple weeks ago that Camden County Investigators say 31-year-old Beau James McCartney died after passing out during a fight. Another man is now facing charges. But, perhaps contributing to McCartney's death, is the fact that, according to Deputies, he had been inhaling compressed air prior to the fight. Corporal Cathy Ussery with the Greene County Sheriff's Office says it's a way people are, and have been for years, getting high, "Things such as; compressed air, over the counter medications, things that are purchased over the internet, herbal remedies that we see, as well. So, there are a lot of ways that people are attempting to become intoxicated through very accessible items."

And, specifically, abusing inhalants (or "huffing" or "sniffing") continues to be popular because the materials are easy to get, and unlike drugs like meth, they're legal... up to a point. Ussery says, "There are several things that are legal to purchase, but once you use them in ways other than what they're intended for, then, it does become an illegal substance."

You'll see that right on the labels of those products. But, if you can buy it right off a store shelf, how dangerous can it be? According to Ussery, "It's just as dangerous, if not more so."

The DEA says if you're abusing inhalants, you can feel like you're drunk, but can be causing severe damage to your body and mind, like dementia. Some of these effects are irreversible. And, it can kill you. Also, you may want to talk to your kids about these dangers, because most chilling, one in five kids say they've abused inhalants by the time they're in the 8th grade.
Corporal Ussery says another way people are using legal products to get high, is prescription drug abuse. It's also dangerous and potentially deadly.

So, lock your medicine cabinets, shred your prescriptions, and dispose of your unused meds. But, you shouldn't just throw them away. You can take them to prescription take-back events. There's one coming up later this month on the 26th from 10am to 2pm at various pharmacies around Springfield.