Inhalants Kill!


Margaret's Story


My name is Margaret.  Help me save one life!  Please, take time to read this!  I'm circulating this letter to anyone and everyone that I can, in an effort to prevent this kind of tragedy from hurting other families as it has devastated mine. I am a mother who has lost her 15 year old son in a senseless and preventable accident.  Here is my story.


It began on August 7, 1998.  It was a Friday night.  After a movie, “the crowd” moved to someone's house to hang out.  There comes news of a fight.  Being boys, they all scrambled to see the fight.  The scenario or timeline that the police have been able to piece together was the driver decided he wanted to buy cigarettes.  They stopped at a local store.  The driver buys the cigarettes and shop-lifts three cans of Glade Air Freshener and a bunch of plastic bags – all the necessary ingredients of huffing.  (aka Gladeators so named because of his choice of Glade.)  Keith and his friend were still in the car at this time.


The driver comes back and starts speeding towards where the fight was going on.  Without listening to the pleas of Keith to slow down, etc., the driver chooses instead to start huffing at the wheel.  He passes out.  Keith and his friend in the rear seat try to steer the car.  Of course they fail.  The car went sideways, hit a stone wall, then careened across a driveway and slammed into a tree about 20 feet from the road.  The police found pieces of the car forty feet away.




Keith Lawrence Wagner 12-12-82 - 8-7-98
This boy who touched so many hearts; lives forever.
(This is his epitaph on his head stone.)


I'm writing to warn you about the very real, and increasingly popular dangers of inhalant abuse.  If you are a parent, please take a few minutes to investigate whether your children may be experimenting with these dangerous (though perfectly legal) chemicals.  If you are someone with siblings or other young people that you care about, please talk to them.  All young people experiment, but inhalant abuse can cause serious injury or death with EVEN ONE USE.


Most parents are in the dark regarding the popularity and dangers of inhalant use.  Even fewer know the deadly effects the poisons in these products have on the brain and body when they are inhaled or "huffed."


It's like playing Russian Roulette.  The user can die the 1st, 10th or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant. The wrong choice of aerosol can starve the body of oxygen, which can lead to unconsciousness and death, commonly referred to as SUDDEN SNIFFING DEATH (SSD).


Children (ages 9 to 17) already have the knowledge that common household products are inexpensive to obtain, easy to hide and the easiest way to get high.  According to national surveys, inhaling dangerous products is becoming one of the most widespread “drug” problems in the country.  Examples of products kids abuse to get high include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline,  (from your own garage – the cap is removed from the gas tank, and  inhaled) the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.  A search of your own home will produce at least one product that can be used as an inhalant.


These products are sniffed; snorted; bagged fumes inhaled from a plastic bag; or "huffed" (inhalant soaked rag, sock, or roll of toilet paper in the mouth) to achieve a high.  Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.  It is more popular than marijuana with young people.  As little as $1.50 (lunch money) will pay for a can of air freshener.  More than a million young people used inhalants to get high just last year. By the time a student reaches the 8th grade, one in five will have used inhalants.


I want the world of parents to be aware of the dangers of aerosols.  Please send any comments/ edits/suggestions to Margaret:




or for more information call:


The Inhalants Hotline

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition

Thank you!

Keith’s Mom



For more TIPs on healthy alternatives to use of toxic products, contact:

Toxics Information Project (TIP), 401-351-9193,


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