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CBS4 Investigates: Teens Huffing A/C Freon

MIAMI (CBS4) - All across YouTube, teens are recording themselves getting high using freon they steal from air conditioning units.

In one video, a teen huffs, then falls to the ground drooling.

"You're drooling like a baby," one teen says.

"Once one kid is talking to another kid about getting high on freon, they're talking about getting high. They just became members of the Get High club," said Dr. Marino Carbonell, a psychotherapist in Miami.

Dr. Carbonell has specialized in juvenile substance abuse in South Florida for 22 years. He has treated several teens who were addicted to freon. he says they were driven by online videos. "The people on the internet are saying, nah your parents don't know what they're talking about. Look at this. Look at this video," said Dr. Carbonell.

Kids aren't just stealing the freon and taking it somewhere else. Dr. Carbonell says they are using it to get high right on rooftops. "So these kids were going with a garbage bag, and they were going unit to unit, taking the freon from the thing, and they were putting the bags around their heads. And they were seven stories in the air," said Dr. Carbonell.

The American Association of Poison Control says more than 2,000 teens went to the hospital for huffing freon in 2009. Two died.

"Huffing is a game of Russian roulette," said mother Gail Henry, who says her son died huffing freon. Her 18-year-old son was found dead next to an air conditioning unit with a bag over his head.

"Huffing affects everybody in your family and all your friends because when it does kill you, they have to live on," said Henry.

So what are the obvious signs that a teen may be huffing?

Dr. Carbonell says the teen may be getting up tired and could have burn marks on the face. "When you see these things, don't be afraid to confront your child. A lot of parents are afraid to ask, what are you doing? Sometimes when you do that, the kid automatically tells you what they're doing, because they don't think they're doing something wrong," said Dr. Carbonell.

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