'Shamboiling': The Newest Drug Trend Among Teens.
- davidw, CNN iReport producer
"Parents, lock up your shower supplies."
While this may sound like a joke, this is an actual quote from an announcement made last week at a middle school just outside of Richmond, VA. The announcement was made in the just days after the hospitalization of two eighth graders due to a new practice called "shamboiling". Shamboiling, also referred to as bubbling, is practice where shampoo is brought to a rapid boil and then the fumes are inhaled for a hallucinogenic effect. While no one knows for sure how the trend started one thing is certain, that shamboiling is catching on quickly and that it is potentially deadly.
While this new threat has come as a shock to most parents, the police say this is "nothing new", and that they've been dealing with reports of shamboiling for years.
"It's not a common occurrence or anything, but we'd maybe see it two to three times a year, usually being done by addicts with no other fix," Sheriff Truman said when asked about shamboiling. "The fact that we've been getting more and more reports of people, especially teens, [shamboiling] has been a bit of a shock," he went on to say.
The key to shamboiling seems to be in ammonium lauryl sulfate, a common ingredient in many shampoos that when heated up produces a powerful hallucinogenic vapor. The Sheriff's department is urging parents to check their shampoos for this ingredient, and to take the necessary precautions to keep these chemicals away from children.
Shamboiling has many potential risks including pneumonia, cardiac failure or arrest, and aspiration of vomit. The inhaling of Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate can cause hearing loss, limb spasms, and damage to the central nervous system and brain. Serious but potentially reversible effects include liver and kidney damage and blood-oxygen depletion. Death from inhalants is generally caused by a very high concentration of fumes. Brain damage is typically seen with chronic long-term use as opposed to short-term exposure.
Female inhalant users who are pregnant may have adverse effects on the fetus, and the baby may be smaller when it is born and may need additional health care (similar to those seen with alcohol - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). There is some evidence of birth defects and disabilities in babies born to women who sniffed solvents such as gasoline.
However, fortunately, there are ways to tell if your child is a 'bubbler', or if someone in your household has recently been shamboiling. The boiled shampoo has a distinct smell due to the gasses emitted from the boiling substance. . "It smells like a combination of burnt nutmeg and hair,' according to Sheriff Truman. Truman also went on to state that the strength of the smell depended on the type of shampoo used.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by this horrid new trend. I hope it ends quickly and without a fight.