The car that hit and caused Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento's death was driven by 18-year old Carly Rousso of Highland Park.
Rousso has subsequently been charged with one count of reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound. Basically it's been suggested by law enforcement experts that Rousso was huffing (inhaling a psychoactive substance) while driving and therefore is guilty of reckless homicide.
This case once again highlights for the average person the knowledge that huffing is one of many avenues people use to get high or achieve an altered state of consciousness. This type of substance use has multiple toxic effects on the body and normally only finds an audience among the most intense and high rate drug abusers. There are detectable neuropsychological outcomes of this pattern of drug abuse that mimic very closely the outcomes of anyone going under their kitchen sink at home and ingesting the chemicals found there in an attempt to get high. Difficulty with attention span and concentration as well as general cognitive decline are among the irreversible outcomes evident with consistent use. Over time brain atrophy develops in the frontal cortex and these persons are indistinguishable from life long stimulant addicts. As far as I'm concerned they might as well be just become meth or heroin addicts; the course of their life is on that trajectory and certain death is only 12 months or less away.
But what I really want to talk about is how huffing is gaining a whole new audience among users one would never expect. I learned about this from firsthand experience when I was called by our Deputy Chief on my way home early one evening and informed one of my ex-clients (52 years old) was just found dead at home in the bathtub with multiple cans of keyboard cleaner on the tub ledge. The person in question had finally joined AA on a serious level and had been making a meeting a day for the previous 6 months. What I came to ultimately find was that it was becoming common for AA members of all ages to be huffing but staying clean from alcohol and other more easily detectable substances. It was suggested by a few friends with 20 plus years of sobriety that the keyboard cleaner was a cheap, non detectable high through drug screens that allowed members to maintain honesty about non alcohol use but still get wasted.
Since that time I've taken to scanning car interiors and desktops for dust off cans; kind of my own system of counting possibilities. When you've been in the addiction field for 30 years you get somewhat jaded regarding the consistency of substance use. You see that the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. In junior high I remember a few kids used baggies to inhale oven cleaner. In my first few years of practice I was driving down Willow Rd in Northbrook watching an old acquaintance huffing nitrous oxide while driving his chemical canister truck to hospitals and dentists offices where he refilled their tanks. Keyboard cleaner abuse doesn't surprise me while people are operating vehicles. What did surprise me was AA groups know of this current use and how likely it is that some members learn about it at meetings and succumb to it as a way to get high that they think is undetectable and safe. Wrong again!
It always bothered me about the time of day and location of this tragedy. Mid afternoon on Central Ave in Highland Park is not a likely location for someone getting high. Then it occurred to me after writing the above post that The Day By Day Club (an Alano Club) is at 784 Central St Highland Park. A quick glance at google maps shows the tragedy happened just across and up the street from where Carly would have exited the day by day parking lot. They have 12 step recovery meetings all through the day and at night. In fact this was the meeting location for my deceased ex-client mentioned above.