It’s a question being asked by Nebraska officials these days – and it seems that the answer to that question is “yes.” Hookah cleaner is being reported as the main substance of abuse among a number of those recently arrested in the Lincoln, Nebraska area for petty crimes and neighborhood disturbances.
Local law enforcement reports that two deaths in recent weeks are attributable to the abuse of hookah cleaner as are multiple arrests. Police say that they believe that users are injecting a solution that is used to clean hookah pipes.
It’s a new substance just barely hitting the radar. According to the Journal Star, one U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman said that he had never heard of that when he was asked whether or not hookah cleaner abuse was becoming a problem. A quick Internet search, however, reveals a number of sources that discuss the specifics of getting high using hookah cleaner.
In addition to giving the user a euphoric high, officials report that hookah cleaner abuse also apparently causes hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Some believe that they are being chased or pursued (by someone other than the police). Others exhibit psychosis that makes them difficult to reason with and causes them to vandalize randomly and create a disturbance. Those who are arrested while apparently under the influence of hookah cleaner are immediately taken to the hospital to make sure that they are physically stabilized before being arrested.
Like a number of underground drugs new to the black market – or new to being abused in order to get high – hookah cleaner is still legal at the moment. However, if the anecdotal evidence of its effects is proven in the lab and it continues to contribute to incidences of crime and overdose, then likely its status as legal won’t stand for long.
However, Nebraska state law states that it is illegal to take anything “for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication, stupefaction, depression, giddiness, paralysis, inebriation, excitement or irrational behavior, or in any manner changing, distorting or disturbing the auditory, visual, mental or nervous processes.”
This means that those who are caught abusing hookah cleaner could be arrested just as they would if caught inhaling fumes from spray cans or other toxic substances in an effort to get high. Because it has a legal purpose, it may end up becoming subject to regulations like pseudoephedrine, a drug approved to treat cold symptoms on an over-the-counter basis but also used for illicit purposes in large amounts.
What do you think? Should hookah cleaner be banned if it continues to be a problem? Should regulations be instituted at all? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think.