Why authorities are so concerned about huffing

As a parent and police officer, Detective Sergeant Bernadette Ingram said she is concerned about the emergence of huffing around the Northern Rivers.
As a parent and police officer, Detective Sergeant Bernadette Ingram said she is concerned about the emergence of huffing around the Northern Rivers. Claudia Jambor

Friday 3.00pm: YOUTH workers and health authorities have thrown their support behind police efforts to prevent the emergence of a hazardous habit gripping towns around the country.

It comes after Richmond Local Area Command expressed concern about young people on the Northern Rivers taking up the practice of huffing, the sniffing of chemical vapours of household aerosols.

Police say a recent spike in kids shoplifting aerosol may be linked to the youths engaging in huffing.

Northern NSW Local Health District CEO Wayne Jones urged youth not to engage in the hazardous habit, which can be fatal.

"Our strong advise is don't you put your life at risk by doing this practice," Mr Jones said.

While not aware of any recent cases within the LHD, Mr Jones said prevention is better than a cure with education measures targeted at kids as young as 12-years-old against the risks.

Detective Sergeant Bernadette Ingram referred to statistics that revealed 22% of people die during their first huffing experience.

Drug and alcohol workers, such as the Buttery Rehabilitation Centre's Christian Grufyt, are familiar with the high also known as chroming.

The drug and alcohol outreach program manager said anecdotally they've heard about 5-10 cases of huffing in the past three years with most cases occurring in western areas such as Tabulam.

He said the high wasn't "the preferred drug of choice" for young people due to the "quite strong and unpleasant" side effects which include severe headaches and permanent brain damage.

Mr Grufyt said The Buttery would be willing to work closely with police on preventative measures as the two agencies enjoy a constructive history of helping young people.



Thursday 13.36pm: POLICE are working with parents, businesses and youth workers to tackle a dangerous trend emerging among Northern Rivers kids.

Huffing is the term used to describe the potentially fatal practice of sniffing of the chemical vapours from household chemicals.

Richmond Local Area Command Detective Sergeant, Bernadette Ingram said there has been a spike in kids as young 12 shoplifting deodorant cans from local retailers believed to be used for huffing.

Brain damage, kidneys, liver and even death are among the harmful effects Det Sgt Ingram outlined can come from the hazardous habit.

"The damage to these kids can be irreparable," she said.

She said police are liaising closely with parents, businesses and youth workers and other relevant agencies to keep abreast of the issue in the community.

For example, Det Sgt Ingram said police are working with retailers to identify shoplifting hotspot areas looking out for kids at risk of huffing.

Det Sgt Ingram said nausea, violent tendencies and social disengagement are symptoms parents can look out for if they are concerned for their child.

As a parent, Det Sgt Ingram said huffing is a scary prospect for parents.

"I think it would be my worst nightmare to find put my kid is sniffing the chemical vapour from an aerosol can," Det Sgt Ingram said.

She urged parents to be vigilant and discuss the risks with their children, even as young as kindy, about dangerous activities like huffing.

Topics:  huffing north coast northern rivers crime northern rivers police richmond lac

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