Lori Fullbright, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- A grieving Tulsa woman buried her teenage son just 21 days ago.
Despite her sadness, she feels it's important to warn parents how addictive and deadly a new high is that kids are chasing. Her son, Mario, died from huffing freon.
Freon is available everywhere in air conditioning units and police say it's a cheap and easy high that's on the rise.
There is something simple and cheap each one of us could do stop this form of huffing that's killing so many teens.
Mario is the oldest of three boys and the one who always made everybody else laugh, who couldn't stand to see others sad.
But, for the past year, his family was beyond saddened by his addiction.
"He was like, I've been huffing freon and I was like what?!" said Mario's mother Melissa Zorichak.
Melissa had noticed Mario's mood changes and finger burns, so had him drug tested, but it came back clean, because freon isn't detected.
A buddy convinced him to try it once for fun, and then he was hooked. She had him in and out of rehab, took him to meetings, got him all the help she could, but the addiction was too much.
"We did so many crazy things to keep him from harming himself. It got to where he was doing it every day and coming home with burns on his face and hands. I mean down to the bone burns," Melissa said.
Freon causes frostbite and can suffocate, collapse lungs and cause death. Mario had been in ICU for a week but still kept huffing.
Some kids fill balloons or latex gloves with the freon then take it home to huff. Mario was so desperate; he just put his mouth right to the AC unit's freon valve and inhaled it.
On January, 10th, his mom was out looking for him again and found him just a block from home.
"When I got out of the car, he was just laying there, snow was covering him, like he was asleep," she said.
Melissa says Mario made A's and B's, had a family who supported him and dreams of becoming a chef, so she knows it can happen to anyone and urges parents to talk to their kids about this new high.
She also urges everyone to buy a $25 lock for the freon valve of their AC units to stop kids from accessing it.
"This isn't how it's supposed to happen, not supposed to lose your kids and no matter how hard we tried, what we did, places we took him, it wasn't enough," she said.
Mario died the day before his 18th birthday.