Dear Straight Talk: I’m 10 and my big brother is in eighth grade. He used to be so much fun and I looked up to him. Now I’ve spied him stealing money from our mother’s purse and sniffing from chemicals in our garage. I don’t want to get him in trouble, but he has become a complete idiot since he’s got these two new friends. He hardly talks to me anymore. Our parents are divorced and our mom works very hard and doesn’t notice how much he has changed. What should I do? — James, Woodland
Gregg, 23, Los Angeles: TELL BOTH YOUR PARENTS ASAP! Tell them about the inhalants, that he’s stealing from your mom — I guarantee to buy cigarettes or other drugs — and that his two friends are scumbags. If you think he’s an idiot, it’s because he is an idiot. Your parents need to step in. Stand by what you say and tell them even though you are scared. Huffing is disgusting. My friends and I did some bad stuff, but huffing is gross, it’s trashy, it’s unknown chemicals poisoning the brain. It’s probably why he’s an idiot! You sound strong. Stop protecting your brother. Tell on him!
Aleck, 18, Bellevue, Wash: All drugs alter brain chemistry but the “high” from inhalants is your brain and body being poisoned. Inhalants are stupid and make you stupid. I first thought doing Whip-Its from whipped cream cans was harmless, but people have died from it and I could feel my brain becoming dull and flat. You HAVE to tell your parents. He could die instantly.
Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vt.: Tell your mom or an adult you trust. Siblings always notice things first and telling will get your brother help before your parents finally do notice, which could be too late.
Breele, 20, Dana Point: Two friends with lots of childhood trauma told me they used to sniff glue, spray paint, etc. They said that of all the drugs they ever did, huffing was the stupidest and most damaging. Your brother is looking for an escape with whatever he can get his hands on. I have older siblings, too, who I love and admire. Telling on him is showing your love. He’ll be mad, but he’ll know you care that much. His friends do sound like a bad influence. That said, they are young and this is a beautiful moment to stop them all from going down the rabbit hole. Show your mom this column. Mom: Tell the other boys’ parents. And tell the boys that if they don’t all stop this behavior your son cannot see them anymore. Speak to your son like an adult, giving this and other consequences.
Ashley, 26, Auburn: You absolutely MUST tell your parents ASAP! Your brother might get mad but it won’t last long. Telling your mom is brave and wise and could save his life! (Ask her to not reveal you as the source.) Inhaling chemicals is extremely bad. It causes brain problems and leads to other drugs.
Dear James: Yes, you must blow the whistle. The younger kids start drugs, the more likely they do go down the rabbit hole to long-term drug dependency. Show your mom and dad this column immediately. To your parents: Your son is in deep water. Immediately contact a trained rehab counselor who will work with your family uncovering root causes of drug use and teach positive ways to handle stress and trauma — while getting him clean. Do not delay! Inhalants cause brain, organ and nerve damage. “Sudden sniffing death” can happen at any time.
Readers: For more on inhalants, including warning signs, see our website. — Lauren
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