Police say woman found getting high on canned air at Walmart

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OLATHE, Kan.– A woman is facing charges for getting high at a Johnson County Walmart.

Melissa Ann Wright is accused of huffing an industrial strength duster chemical that’s normally used to clean computers. Someone said they saw the woman huffing a can of Ultra Duster about 11 p.m. Wednesday inside the Walmart near East Santa Fe Street and South Black Bob Road. The person called 911.

The spray is supposed to be used as a cleaner. The bottle warns that inhaling it can be harmful or even cause death.

“Once it enters the system it causes the heart to become super sensitive to things like adrenaline,” said Tama Sawyer, the managing director of the University of Kansas Poison Control Center. “So if you are frightened, you can have a heart attack.”

Police called an ambulance, but said Wright refused medical attention.

“It can cause you to pass out fairly quickly because it removes the oxygen in your lungs,” Sawyer said.

One of the most common injuries from huffing is instant frostbite.

“They cause frostbite on contact. So you would have frostbite of the lips, throat, mouth and even further down,” Sawyer said.

Because of those dangers and the fact it can cause a liver or kidney to shut down. The makers of the product added a bitter taste to discourage abuse.

University of Kansas Hospital said huffing calls are rare and police agree. They say it’s pretty uncommon to charge anyone with abusing toxic vapors. Doctors say other drugs have become increasingly more popular.

Experts say someone might use compressed air to get high not because they’re addicted to the chemical inside, but instead are addicted to the way it makes them feel. They say it can be similar to a drunk-intoxicated type of feeling.

12 comments

  • Bob

    Poor chick. Nobody wants to live with that level of addiction/desperation. She needs some kind of intervention NOT to be arrested.

    • Pedro

      And what if she says “Hell No!” to your intervention and continues to huff herself to death on stolen property…….at what point would an arrest be appropriate?

      • Bob

        Never, we need to stop the imprisonment of people for self-harm. We’re talking about a $6 can of air. Fuq off, pedro.

      • Pedro

        Hey Bob,
        there is a difference between an arrest and imprisonment. Should business owners expect addicts to enter the store and steal items to get high on without consequence? Let beer runs happen? Let people get a daily high in their store before being escorted out by store employees? Leave law enforcement out of it…….sounds like a fair system for criminals.

      • Pedro

        Next time I am at the store and I see a bunch of homeless people and addicts sitting around cracking 12 packs and sipping them casually in the aisle while huffing air duster, I’ll remember to leave them alone and wait for someone to give them a proper “intervention.”

      • bob

        So addicts automatically get a free pass to steal stuff?

        You’re not bright, Bob. Arresting her is her only chance for survival at this point. Short of that, all they can do is say, “Please don’t do that……”

        YOU, Bob, are doing absolutely nothing to help her. You’re making no effort whatsoever.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Jail is the best kind of intervention Bob. She will die a very early premature death. And no, Bob, she is beyond self help.

  • Abram

    I agree with Pedro. Addiction is sad, but it shouldn’t give you a free ride to steal your intoxicant-of-choice from law abiding businesses. Since your feel so strongly about the addict’s right to get high by stealing, Bob. I would invite you to cover the cost of the stolen goods. Maybe there is a way for you to donate to that cause.

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