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Deodorant sniffing in outback 'incredibly serious'

  1. Docta
    Australia's peak drugs body says it is concerned by reports young Aboriginal people in central Australia are stealing deodorant from supermarkets to get high.

    An Alice Springs youth organisation says there is a deodorant sniffing outbreak in the town involving children as young as seven.

    The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia's David Templeman says it is a dangerous situation.

    "In some cases, it can include hallucinations and drowsiness and coma and that can then sometimes lead to death," he said.

    "It's incredibly serious when your situation's about chemical poisoning, [it] can lead to brain and liver and kidney damage, that's certainly serious as far as looking at it from a long-term perspective."

    Mr Templeman says the outbreak can be fought through giving community organisations more resources.

    "It's not to say that education isn't already happening but we're dealing with a sector that's pretty stacked as far as resources is concerned," he said.

    "If we want to get a better footprint with regards to education and understanding, it's going to require some additional capacity, some additional resources."

    In a statement, retailer Kmart says it regularly meets community organisations in Alice Springs to find the best solutions to address solvent abuse.

    Posted June 04, 2012


  1. coolhandluke
    when i was 15 in was in rehab and we were all looking for something to catch a buzz on. no aerosols arounds, and we tried huffing deodorant until we were blue in the face and never got any buzz at all. i saw that some contained ether in it, crushed it up and tried putting it in water to see if the ether would separate, nope, didn't happen. you folks down under must have some funky body odor or something to have chemicals like that in it, lol.
  2. stryder09
    What exactly is in this 'deodorant'?
  3. Potter
    aerosol propellents. This is NOT a new problem, easily going back over two decades.
  4. beentheredonethatagain
    docta, it sounds like these supermarket stores may have to start locking up the right guard under arm deodorant , lol .

    there has got to be a better source for a buzz than this, what in the world is next?

    I thought glue and spray paint were bad, even gasoline, but jeez antiperspirant?
  5. Docta
    Thing is bt all of the above are already under lock an key, that's why the kids have gone to the only aerosol that wont kill left in the supermarket isle.
    The hair spray, glue and paint were put out of reach long ago, even the gasoline/petrol is a special formulation called Opal fuel that can't be sniffed to get high.

    Every time we think we have the inhalants covered the kids find something new to help pass the time. What are we to do?
  6. beentheredonethatagain
    oh my , things sound bad . too many people sniffing and huffing anything they can steal.

    do you have any data on just how wide spread all of this is? has huffing always been a problem or is it something that has only gotten worse recently?
  7. Docta
    Petrol sniffing

    Petrol sniffing is a major problem in Aboriginal communities across four Australian states. It destroys health and families.

    The introduction of a "non-sniffable" petrol variety has greatly reduced, but not ended sniffing. Addicts are now changing to glue, seen by many as even more dangerous.

    Statistics on petrol sniffing

    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26638&stc=1&d=1339062557[/imgr]Petrol sniffing is a serious problem that has claimed over 100 Indigenous lives from 1981 to 2003 across Australia [8]. It is very common in Aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia and not restricted to Aboriginal youth. The practice was first observed in 1951, and is believed to have been introduced by US servicemen stationed in the nation's Top End during World War II.

    Of the Indigenous population in 1994, 4% had tried petrol-sniffing but only 0.3% practised it at that time.

    In 2005 there were some 700 petrol sniffers across central Australia [9], with the addiction linked to as many as 60 Aboriginal deaths in the NT between 2000 and 2006, and 121 deaths between 1980 and 1987.

    The number of petrol sniffers in the Central Desert region dropped from 500 to fewer than 20 after legislation introduced in 2005 gave police powers to confiscate petrol and take sniffers to a place of safety .

    The general age range of users is from 10-19 years with a mean of 12-15 years, but use by children younger than 10 is not uncommon.

    Petrol sniffing leads to the death of an Aboriginal boy in the movie "Yolngu Boy".

    Effects of petrol sniffing

    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26639&stc=1&d=1339062557[/imgr]Petrol sniffing produces a variety of short-term effects from pleasurable feelings of excitement, to alcohol-like intoxication, to loss of consciousness. The effects are experienced within a few minutes and only last for a short time (which is the main reason for its use), usually less than an hour.

    Short-term effects include euphoria and excitement, feeling light, sensations of numbness, dizziness. These effects may be followed by giddiness, nausea, slurred speech, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, indigestion, chest pain, hallucinations, muscle weakness, loss of motor coordination and slowed reflexes.

    Long-term use can damage internal organs, the brain and the nervous system because petrol is a solvent. When sniffed, its fumes travel up the nose and dissolve fatty tissue in the brain.

    Some damage can be reversed by ceasing use of certain substances, but permanent damage can occur to the brain, liver and kidneys. The person becomes degraded, disabled or dies.

    On a larger scale petrol-sniffing devastates not only the sniffer's health but also their families and the wider community by increased domestic violence and family breakdown.


    Introduction of 'non-sniffable' fuel, Opal

    In an effort to reduce the epidemic of petrol sniffing in Indigenous communities, BP introduced a new petrol brand, called Opal in early 2005. It contains almost no lead and has only very low levels of the aromatic hydrocarbons ('aromatics'), which give the "high" sought by petrol sniffers.

    This is the first time a product has been specifically designed to assist remote communities and in particular Aboriginal communities to fight petrol sniffing.

    Prior to the introduction of Opal, Comgas (Avgas rebranded, from Aviation Gas) has been used in the 1990s in many communities to discourage misuse of fuel as an inhalant; however, unlike Opal, Avgas contains lead and was not accepted by communities due to doubts about its suitability.

    All petrol stations in Alice Springs now sell the new fuel [4]. Opal fuel is subsidised by the federal government to sell at the same price, costing about AUD 4 million a year.

    In 2010, 106 Indigenous communities, roadhouses and other fuel outlets across the states of NT, WA, SA and QLD used Opal fuel


    Unleaded Opal performs as regular unleaded fuel and can be mixed with other fuel in a petrol tank without affecting the engine.

    Success of Opal fuel

    Throughout Australia the introduction of non-sniffable Opal fuel helps Indigenous communities to reduce petrol sniffing and improve health significantly.

    Petrol sniffing on the lands of the Anangu, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal people (all in South Australia) "has more than halved in just 12 months" [1] with 60% less people sniffing petrol. Compared to 2004 figures the 2006 data shows a huge 80% drop in incidence.

    With petrol sniffing down, communities could also reduce money spent on policing and health initiatives which amounts to more than AUD 100 million,
    his could be achieved by a 'no tolerance' attitude of the Aboriginal people in the communities, similar to the 'no grog' attitude many communities have to reduce their alcohol consumption. All communities in Central Australia have now voluntarily switched to the new fuel.

    The South Australian government has undertaken the following initiatives to reduce petrol sniffing

    • harsher penalties for trafficking in petrol,
    • a mobile outreach service which offers assessment, counselling and education,
    • extra police,
    • new swimming pools at two communities,

    Swimming pools seem to be an interesting approach to provide positive community infrastructure.

    Failure of Opal fuel

    The introduction of non-sniffable Opal fuel is not all gold. Police reported that sniffable petrol is smuggled into communities where it sells for up to $100 a litre [2].

    In April 2007 a boy died after sniffing a bottle of Opal fuel [5], the first known casualty from sniffing Opal fuel [17]. A coronial investigation into the death found that Opal fuel "should not be marketed as a harmless substance". The description as "unsniffable" was "clearly wrong" [6]. Like any valtile substance Opal fuel can be sniffed, and can be fatal when sniffed.

    Young Aboriginal people who cannot sniff petrol anymore have been known to switch to other drugs like cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines [2]. But there's another replacement for sniffable petrol, readily available in every supermarket: glue.

    Very much like petrol, glue gives a feeling of euphoria and exhilaration when inhaled. It leads to dizziness, loss of co-ordination, slurred speech and mental deterioration [4]. It is considered, in some ways, more dangerous than petrol. Concern was growing in 2008 in Alice Springs where children were increasingly starting to sniff glue.

    On a practical level, regular petrol is still required because motorbikes and lawn mowers cannot be run on Opal [16].

    It is important to know the symptoms of an ecstasy overdose so that appropriate action can be taken right away.

    Sniffers have also worked out ways to make Opal fuel addictive. Putting a piece of Styrofoam (for example from a coffee cup) into the fuel causes a chemical reaction which, for bio diesel, lets the foam dissolve "like a snowflake in water" according to scientists . From the resulting mix addicts can get their high.

    Case study: Mt Theo Program for sniffers

    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26642&stc=1&d=1339062943[/imgr]Yuendumu is one of the largest Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, 290 km north-west of Alice Springs. In 1993, the situation in the community was dire as more than half the community's teenagers were sniffing petrol [12,15]. The school's principal reckoned there were more children sniffing in the school grounds at night than attending class during the day.

    Sniffers intimidated elders, set car tyres on fire, broke into ceremony camps, broke sacred tribal rules by calling out the name of the dead, pelted classrooms with rocks and encouraged mates and girlfriends.

    Aboriginal elder Peggy Nampijinpa Brown and other elders from the community decided to take a zero tolerance approach. Previous initiatives such as banishment, public floggings of sniffers, night patrol and the replacement of petrol with aviation fuel had not stopped the youth from sniffing petrol.

    In a last ditch effort Peggy offered to look after all of Yuendumu's petrol sniffers at Mt Theo Outstation, 130 kms north-west of the community, 480 kms from Alice Springs and 50 kms from the nearest main road.

    Mt Theo is not only geographically isolated but also a spiritually powerful healing place with strong links to the Dreaming (Jukurrpa in Warlpiri Aboriginal language).

    To take the peer pressure out of sniffing, ring leaders or chronic sniffers were removed and sent bush for a month at a time to give "bodies and brains" time away from petrol [15].

    The Mt Theo Program started in 1994 and quickly turned into a mammoth task, a task that ultimately would become Peggy's life work.

    Warlpiri elders and a dedicated support team looked after the young people and involved them in activities such as hunting, teaching bush skills and going on day trips into the bush, but also leadership development, diversion, respite, rehabilitation and aftercare.

    "By the winter of the seventh year, the night air in Yuendumu was different: the smell of petrol was not on the wind," reports Andrew Stojanovski, author of Dog Ear Cafe: How the Mt Theo Program Beat the Curse of Petrol.

    Since 1994 the program has extended across the Warlpiri region including many more communities. By 2002 there was no more sniffing in Yuendumu [15]. The success of this program is based on the dedication of the staff and the support of the youth's communities.

    The program, formally known as Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (WYDAC) was created by and for Warlpiri people.

    Peggy was presented with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in recognition of her invaluable work for the community.

    Case study: Snuff Out Sniffing (SOS) campaign

    "It was pretty bad, some nights he would come home smelling of petrol, he was sniffing glue and petrol, you couldn't reason with him or discipline him, we tried but nothing was getting through," remembers Steven Langton about his 10-year-old son [13]. When Mr Langton himself was ten years old, he himself had started sniffing.

    When the Cherbourg community realised they had a serious problem, elders, council, community leaders, government and, importantly, parents got together. They launched the Snuff Out Sniffing program which receives unprecedented support.

    Initially no-one in the community wanted to talk about it, even with sniffers visible. But then came the numbers, between 20 and 70, and that some sniffers were as young as seven.

    Once the community was aware of the sniffers they realised that there were no drug intervention centres for sniffers, with most mainly targeting alcohol and other drugs.

    That is why the real force of the SOS campaign lies solely in the community, who have gone all out to bring home the zero-tolerance message. "We have community leaders mentoring each other, families who buddy up with other families to support each other through. We've got dads who have been sniffers themselves going into schools to educate the young," reports Mr Simpson

  8. underclass
    Like with any other drug problem, the solution would be to treat the cause of it and address the need, rather than trying in vain to keep drugs out of reach.

    Like you said, the kids are doing it to help pass the time. If they are given no reasonable alternative, they'll continue looking for things to help pass that time.

    Why are they being left without guidance or supervision in the first place? Doesn't anyone feel like showing them how create a productive and enjoyable life for themselves? Clearly not... All we're worried about is the profits being lost by supermarkets.
  9. Docta
    Well that solution seems so simple you would think we would have come up with that by now..................:mad:

    It's impossible to impose that kind of western white man solution on this kind of culture. 200 years ago a white man from Yorkshire came to Australia and declared the continent uninhibited, at the time there were over 200 indigenous nation states well established on the continent but Captain Cook didn't see it that way. The central Australian tribes are all that is left of the indigenous nation states. An unchanged tribal system that has been in place for over 10,000 years dose not easily integrate with your concept of "guidance or supervision".

    The adults have no genetic tolerance to alcohol and it's addictive tendency making a situation where all Australian aboriginals have an alcoholic predisposition.
    This sets substance abuse models that are imprinted on the children from an early age.

    The culture only perceives the initiated elder as something akin to authority, western culture doesn't have a word to describe elder status inside the central Australian aboriginal community.
    Community members that have reached aboriginal elder status are unlikely to live in the town camps around Alice springs, they live in communities hundreds of kilometers away out in the desert. The parents and adults encamped around Alice springs are mostly alcoholic, may not speak English and have problems with illiteracy. Even if an elder is brought in from out side the kids often no longer speak the tribal language even if they recognize the elder's authority. There is no common language between the tribes.

    Many of the children are from family's displaced by clan infighting, they seek refuge in the big towns where the adults fall into alcohol leaving the children to fend for themselves. The white man solution of taking the kid from there parents just fucks up the kids, parents, elders, all members of there community in ways beyond anything we understand. All interventions of the last 30 or more years have had catastrophic effect.

    So lets cut this "create a productive and enjoyable life for themselves" bull shit shall we. We can't transpose what we think should be there way of life onto them.
    We brought this shit into there world and the more we try to change them to fit the mold of western civilization the more they fall into the abyss. Cultural insensitivity is what got us into this situation in the first place. You say "treat the cause of it and address the need" well the cause is European settlement and the need is just that... need, they know they need but they don't know what. They have lost there way and it's a path only there elder understand.

    As for "All we're worried about is the profits being lost by supermarkets" that is a level cultural insensitivity of a hole other paradigm that only maturity and life experiences can explain. I know it's hard to understand the plight of the indigenous Australians with out first hand knowledge, but I would think that a life and death situation involving underprivileged children would garner some sensitivity.
  10. beentheredonethatagain
    you nailed it on the head, when you state that unless we are exposed to the natives first hand, we as westerners wont comprehend the situation.

    The tribes are in a world of their own, no modern society is going to just jump into the mix and change things , at least not from the inside.

    yes the influence of the culture from the outside has an effect, for example the huffing and drinking, but to think we could change a culture that is much much older than ours would be arrogant and foolish.

    However education is a step towards the light. And I dont mean the just say no bullshit of education, but rather with books.

    Teach the youngsters how to read, write, create, study the history of their ancestry, give the gift of Love.
  11. nitehowler
    Its in no way something thats only happening in central australia.

    This form of drug taking is happening around the world where ridiculous governments push their laws and policies to an extent where alternative drugs are used.

    Ime not aboriginal.I beleive that the australian government is to blame for this as the aust govt are imposing alcohol dry zones on aboriginal communities among other restrictions.
    This is very bad discrimination from a country that calls itself multicultural.

    If this was done to you what would you turn to?
  12. underclass
    I have no idea why you decided to make this about ethnicity. I certainly did not say that native tribes required the "white man's" guidance or supervision, my post was about children stealing drugs to get high because they have nothing else to do. Not aboriginal people, not aboriginal children, just children. Not white guidance, just guidance.

    I fail to see how any of your racist ideas hold any bearing on the potential for a nation to provide guidance and supervision for its children. That is what is required to solve the problem, and making excuses about the aboriginal genetic predisposition to alcohol, or anything else, doesn't change that. The excuse that white people moved in to a continent which was already inhabited seems fairly irrelevant too.

    If these children aren't shown something better that they should be doing with their lives, and shown the benefits and results they can achieve, then they will still keep taking these drugs because as far as they are aware life simply does not have anything more interesting or rewarding to offer them. They found something cool and won't put it down unless they are shown something more cool.

    I really can't imagine why race or Australia's history would prevent this, other than when these things are just used as excuses not to even begin to try. Naturally any excuse to give up before you even start will doom you to failure, regardless of whether the excuse is actually a valid reason or not.
  13. Aminatrix
    There's a reason it's called: "Down Under"

    Yea more than likely (as news like this ALWAYS does) it will mean a reform of the way products are manufactured, costing the companies millions and usually creating less effective products.

    Ugh if only parents could learn to watch and control their children.... Hmm if people could do that here, or anywhere for that matter maybe drugs wouldn't be illegal -.-
  14. Docta
    The term “white man” or in the Australian aboriginals word “whitefella” is a term to represent, not the real people or not from us, they consider any that can not name this land and it’s cuts made by Goorialla the great Rainbow Serpent to be not of there “mob” and the words of any that can not name the land have no relevance to the land and therefore no relevance to them.
    That’s right it’s complicated.
    The blackfella whitefella words used by the Australian aboriginals have nothing to do with racism, they don’t even have a word for racism, they are used to describe different concepts of what I can only term the perception of reality, it’s really hard to explain the blackfella whitefella thing, you’d have to come out and live in the outback for a wile to get a grasp of it.

    Don’t call me or my writings racist, Docta is initiated Koori mob that’s from the Awabakal language.
    I am from the southern forest people, I can name this land you can’t so don’t go heaping shit on my interpretation of the problems faced by the Yolngu people. Yolngu had blackfella law when tribes in the UK were still chasing woolly mammoths. I worked in the outback for 18 months living in there community and I’m a whitefella to them not of there mob that doesn’t understand there ways. It’s all about perspective.

    I know it’s hard to understand but an old civilization that was in the stone age only fifty years ago does not conceder the way of the westerner what they call the whitefella to be superior.
    How do you intend to translate this concept “guidance” to someone that does not except you as part of there “mob” whitefella?
    This is a complicated circumstance that can not be remedied with feel good western ideology, that is what I’m trying to convey to the reader.

    What so not having an inherent tolerance to alcohol is making excuses, did you even think for a second what it would be like to have a community that has alcohol addiction, I’m talking 80% plus adult addiction and all the socio economic and medical baggage that comes with it.

    White settlement “seems fairly irrelevant”..... I can not describe how angry a statement like that makes me, with all of the history of displacement and destruction of aboriginal peoples all over the world how can you see it as irrelevant?.

    Again you fail to grasp the concept that the white mans solution has been tried and it failed.
    You would not put your hands on a veiled Muslim women because it's culturally insensitive, You can't go to Israel and start calling circumcision male genital mutilation, this situation is no different.
    A people have a certain way of life that must be respected and any intervention must make allowance for this way of life.
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