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How deodorant sniffing came to Alice Springs

Date posted: 12 February 2015

Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) Spokesman, Blair McFarland, said deodorant sniffing had become a serious problem in Alice Springs in the past year.

CAYLUS was set up to try to reduce the amount of sniffing in the town.

'We knew that people could sniff deodorant but there wasn't really any consistent sniffing happening in Alice Springs until one young girl came over from Mount Isa and basically taught the local kids how to sniff,' Mr McFarland said.
Locals said children as young as seven years old had been found sniffing deodorant in the park behind the supermarket or at the town lookout.

Despite the recent spike in deodorant sniffing in Alice Springs, Mr McFarland said it did not come close to the 'bad old days' before 2007, when petrol sniffing wrought havoc in Central Australia.

'Opportunity is one of the big factors in drug use,' he said. 'If your drug of choice is in every car and all you need to supply your habit is a bit of hose a metre long, then it's really tempting.'

The big change came when central Australia moved to non-sniffable fuel.

'We've seen a change from 500 people sniffing petrol going down to 100 people sniffing paint,' Mr McFarland said. 'When paint changed and became unsniffable and when we [managed the inhaling of] glue better ... the numbers diminished away,' he said.

But it is much more difficult to cut off the supply of deodorant.

CAYLUS estimated there were 20 chronic deodorant sniffers in Alice Springs, mostly aged between 12 and 14 years, but said thousands of other children were also at risk.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Indigenous


Last updated: 11 February 2015
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute