Substance abuse 

Nicolette's 14-year-old son Steven died from solvent abuse. In this video she talks about what happened, and an expert gives his advice.

Find out more about drug misuse

Transcript of Substance abuse

I was bathing one of the children, my little girl,

she'd had her face painted on that day, and we were bathing her

and I could hear shouting outside and I didn't know whether it was kids or not

and then it got louder and louder,

then I just heard a big scream and, "Nicky, come quick!"

I ran to the door and I just knew straight away, their expressions,

I didn't have to ask or say anything, I just knew something wasn't right.

I jumped into the car and they drove me to the bottom of the street.

Steven was lying there with the bike next to him.

Very, very still, no movement, there were two blokes trying to revive him.

The ambulance came.

They said we needed to get to the hospital straight away.

So... we got to the hospital.

They took Steven in a room... and told me that I needed to go into this room...

..because there's nothing more they can do for Steven.

As I went into the room, the doctors were pumping his chest...

..and... they just looked at each other and just shook their heads.

At that point, I just screamed and just crumbled to the floor.

Volatile substance abuse is the taking in of the fumes

from butane, from aerosols, from glues.

It was a rollercoaster of suspicious circumstances,

obviously something killed my son, he died from something.

And then it was three days after when the police, the CID came

and told me that he'd been inhaling petrol.

It's an irregular heartbeat that it causes

and that will cause the heart to stop.

Once the heart is stopped, unless you've got a defibrillator there,

there's nothing else you can do.

He had the heart attack while he was riding the bike

which made him come off the bike, which made people think

that it was a motorbiking accident and not solvent abuse.

The 16s, 17s are the most common ages for people having a problem.

It can happen the first time, it can happen the 50th time

but whenever you do it, that can be your very last time.

They get a quick high, then they're back to normal in an hour.

This is one problem, the parents won't suspect the children have been doing it.

There are symptoms to look for

but they're very misleading because they're normal teenage symptoms.

Teenage spots, mood swings.

Children may change, they may become more lethargic, worse at exams,

worse at school, but this can just be growing up.

The real one is to keep an eye on materials that they could be sniffing.

There are probably 30 or 40 items in a house that can be abused.

They were all taking petrol. He didn't know it was going to kill him.

They were all bored, they were looking for a buzz, something to do.

About 40 per cent of deaths show no sign of having previously abused.

They don't realise the consequences

and the consequences of them just having a laugh is ruining a whole family.

We've lost Steven. The brothers and sisters, they've lost...

We've lost a part of our family.

We could never gain that part of our family back.

That emptiness will always be there.

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