Parents of 'dusting' victim: 'He thought it was harmless fun'

Parents of 'dusting' victim: 'He thought it was harmless fun'
SEATTLE -- There are common household products that if misused - can kill.

Many parents are in the dark about how kids are playing a deadly game of chance with a can of aerosol.

The Alliance for Consumer Education says over 2.1 million kids, ages 12 - 17, have used an inhalant to get high. Many inhale the propellant in aerosols.

The latest crazy now has kids inhaling computer dusters used to clean a computer keyboard.

"It's a real traumatic event and it's something we have to live with for the rest of our lives," said Don Coates.

Monroe parents, Don and Terry Coates lost their son six years ago when Brady was just 18. They had no idea he was abusing a common household product to get high.

"You know about heroin, meth and cocaine, you know the damage," said Terry Coates. "But I would have never checked into inhalants, ever."

Brady inhaled butane, commonly found in air fresheners and hair sprays.

"He thought it was harmless fun and he thought it was safe even though he hallucinated from it," Don Coates said.

To this day, Brady's parents still ask why inhalants?

"I don't know," Don Coates said. "I thought about that, I don't know."

Inhalants are one of the cheapest, most convenient and fastest highs. Any aerosol -- from spray paint and air fresheners, to cooking sprays and deodorant -- can get you high.

But computer dusters are the rage. Too many kids think it's harmless air-in-a-can, but it's not just air, it's compressed, liquified gas in a can and it's what is going inside people's body's that inhale computer duster.

This legal high is called huffing. Users typically huff directly into the mouth. But some huff by sniffing vapors from volatile solvents like glue, gas and paint thinner.

Huffing delivers an immediate euphoric high, that goes right to the brain and into the heart. The lucky ones just pass out.

"It can be deadly" said Dr. Tom Martin with the University of Washington and Washington Poison Center. "You can have sudden death in kids or anybody who takes it."

Martin said by the time he sees kids who have huffed, it's too late. Inhaled chemicals set the heart up for failure.

"Anytime you do this, if you become startled or frightened it can kill you, it can be lethal, it can suddenly make your heart stop beating," he said.

That's exactly what happened to Brady.

Instead of celebrating his 24th birthday this month, his parents are in his memory garden lighting a candle at his headstone.

"I think the most important thing to notice,it's right under our noses! It's all around us," Don Coates said.

But parents can help prevent huffing. The Partnership for a Drug Free America says if a parent talks to a child about this issue, the child is 50 percent less likely to use an inhalant.

More Information:

Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit