Inhalant Abuse In Casper On The Rise [AUDIO]
21 arrests this year in Casper were connected to huffing. That's up from 5 last year.
Those were approximate numbers sited by Casper Police Chief, Chris Walsh who, at the request of city council, gave them a run down on an escalating problem in the city with inhalant abuse.
"We have had 21 arrests this year. Fifteen were for use of inhalant, five were DUI's where the intoxicating substance was an inhalant. And then that aggravated vehicular homicide that was recently charged."
That case has yet to be tried, but In 2009 a Casper man was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide for a head-on fatal crash that killed a 72-year-old woman. Investigators found two cans of Dust Off in his truck -- one of which had been used.
An educational campaign, that gets the word out about the dangers of huffing is something Walsh says the police department is already working on. Council indicated they would back that idea with funding. The chief suggests users may think that, just because you can get products like Dust Off over the counter, it can't be that dangerous.
"Death from this can come from the first use or your fifth use. There's not any accumulative build up on this that causes a person to die. You remove the oxygen from your body and basically you suffocate to death. And if your driving your going to become unconscious and you don't control where that car goes. People die as a result of it."
One preventative step under consideration, Walsh says, is asking retailers to consider voluntarily keeping the products behind the counter, but he admits, the range of products being used are too broad for that to be very effective. He says penalties need to increased as well.
Walsh proposes increasing the fines from $160 to $260, bringing them in line with possession of marijuana.