Teens Huffing Freon To Get High

Friday, May 28th 2010, 9:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It's the latest way for teens to get high. It's cheap. And they can get it from your air conditioning unit.  But doctors say it's deadly and police say its theft.

When the temperatures soar, air conditioners are cranked up.

Also getting high, people huffing the freon straight out of the units.

"We've had several customers that after doing a job, found out it was leaking again after we had fixed it again," said David Rampey, Air Assurance VP. "Came back, couldn't find a leak anywhere, and afterwards discovered on a security camera that somebody was actually coming over and sniffing it at night."

People really don't realize how dangerous this really is," said Dr. Craig Sanford, with Saint John Health System.

Dr. Sanford says huffing freon is similar to huffing gasoline. And so are the dangers.

"It is a method of getting high," he said. "And one of the other mechanisms by which this happens is it prevents the body from getting oxygen."

Dr. Sanford says the chemicals irritate the mouth, throat and lungs.

You can get frostbite from it," he said. "You actually can through the inhalation, any of the tissues... the nose the mouth. And the face, you can get frostbite from that."

He says huffing Freon, even once, can cause short and long term damage to the brain including memory and behavioral problems.

"They will," he said. "And the problem is people don't realize that there is a chance and risk of death."

Taking freon from an air conditioning unit is considered theft. But there is a simple way to freeze freon thieves in their tracks. A lock.

"The access to the refrigerant there is like a tire," he said. "You just unscrew the cap, press the button so to speak and get the refrigerant out of it so a locking cap, and they can't do that."

You can buy a lock at a heat and air company. They cost between $20 and $30.