A 25-year-old woman found face down, bleeding on a roadway inside a Canyon Country mobile home park, received medical treatment from paramedics and was later taken to a rehab center for treatment of a “huffing” addiction of inhaling aerosol chemicals.
Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday, a maintenance man who works for the mobile home community on Soledad Canyon Road at Rainbow Glen Drive phoned 911 to report finding an unresponsive woman.
Paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department were dispatched to Soledad Canyon Road for reports of a medical call, Fire Department Supervisor Ed Pickett said.
Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station also responded to the call for a woman bleeding with facial injuries, found draped over a speed bump.
Faced, however, with the option of taking her to jail or placing her in rehab after she had received medical attention, the deputy opted for rehab.
“We went over to see what was going on,” said Cary Quashen, founder of Action Family Counseling, on Soledad Canyon Road. “We found a girl sitting (in) the back of a squad car.
“The girl’s mom said a maintenance man driving through the community on a golf cart found her and called 911,” Quashen said.
Paramedics who attended to the woman concluded she collapsed due to inhaling dangerous aerosol chemicals in the compressed air canisters of Ultra Duster, a pressurized spray intended to remove dust from machines and computer components.
At one point, when Quashen was talking to the woman in the back seat of the deputy’s patrol car, she explained her addiction.
“She told me, ‘I’m destroying my brain cells, but I can’t stop,’” he said, noting the woman claimed to empty 10 cans in a day by inhaling the harmful chemicals.
In opting for rehab as opposed to jail, the responding deputy reportedly explained his decision to Quashen.
“He said, ‘My whole purpose is to make sure she is safe and alive.’ He said he would rather see her in rehab instead of jail,” Quashen said.
The woman was admitted to the Piru Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center run by Action Family Counseling, where she was expected to receive treatment and, after 30 days, be transferred to a sober-living facility.
In the process of taking the woman to rehab, and stopping to collect personal items from the mobile home she shares with her mother, Quashen said he had to take away two additional Ultra Duster spray cans the woman collected from her bedroom.
People addicted to “huffing” aerosol chemicals do it for the mind-altering effects it has on the user.
The Ultra Duster can comes with a warning on its label that reads: “Misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling contents may be harmful or fatal.”
The can also warns it contains “a bitterant to help discourage inhalant abuse.”
Huffing is drug abuse local sheriff’s detectives don’t see too much of, but they are very aware of its dangers.
“As far as its commonality in SCV, I have not come across a ‘huffing’ case in the last nine months,” said Deputy Travis Sabadin, of the SCV Sheriff’s Station J-Team, or Juvenile Team.
According to Sabadin: The inhaling of chemicals found in household items such as aerosol sprays, cleaning fluids, glue, paint or paint thinner, is called “huffing.”
“When substances or fumes are inhaled through the nose or mouth, they can cause permanent physical and mental damage,” he said Tuesday.
“Persistent use can lead to reduced muscle mass, tone and strength. Inhalants can make people unable to walk, talk and think normally. Damage is caused to the brain tissue when the toxic fumes are sniffed straight into the sinus,” he said.
Most “huffers” abuse substances that are commonly found in the home, including spray paint, glue, nail polish remover, aerosol deodorant, markers, whipped cream canisters and cooking spray.
Inhalants are defined as: gases or fumes from everyday products that are inhaled or sniffed to cause an immediate high, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Inhalants cut off oxygen to the brain and can damage your ability to think clearly, cause you to become clumsy and harm your eyesight. Some of this damage can be permanent.
Inhalants, according to SAMHSA, starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat rapidly and irregularly. Your heart may even stop pumping blood.
People who use inhalants, the group says, often experience nausea and vomiting.
Continued use of inhalants can lead to loss of hearing; damage to the sense of smell, loss of muscle control; and increased risk of cancer, as well as liver, lung and kidney problems.