On December 7 and December 8, the witness saw the former Nickelodeon star, 36, in the driver’s seat of his car seemingly “huffing” balloons while his young son was in the backseat. (In July 2021, the actor revealed that he had quietly welcomed a boy with wife Janet Von Schmeling.)
“Drake pulled up in the driveway at his house [in Los Angeles] and started to inflate a pink balloon that was in his lap. He inhaled it … [until] the balloon was deflated,” the eyewitness tells Us of the December 7 sighting, adding that the Drake & Josh alum repeated the action “six or seven times” over the course of 30 minutes. “Eventually he got out and went into his house, then he came back out and got his kid out of the rear child seat and carried him in.”
The next day, after stopping by a smoke and vape shop, Bell was spotted in a nearby parking lot, inhaling an inflated blue balloon. “At one point, it looked like he was about to fall asleep. His head started to drop and his eyes slowly closed,” the eyewitness tells Us. “But eventually he got himself together and drove off. The kid was clearly in the car.”
According to American Addiction Centers chief medical officer Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, Bell’s alleged behavior is part of a rising new trend. “Based on data … there was an increase of more than 11 percent in the number of people who have misused an inhalant in the past year,” he tells Us, warning that inhalant abuse can cause everything from cognitive impairment to sudden death. “[It] is very dangerous.”
Though inhalant abuse is not as widely discussed as other forms of substance abuse, Weinstein notes that it can have “detrimental effects on all organ systems” and lead to anemia, emphysema, renal failure, heart failure, brain abnormalities and cognitive impairment.
Weinstein adds that balloons “can also be a vessel” for inhalants — usually nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. “Recreational use is increasing due to its euphoric effects and is one of the most frequently used inhalants due to its wide availability,” the medical professional tells Us.
Last year, Bell was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in California in connection with a December 2017 incident where he was accused of grooming and sexually abusing a minor. After initially pleading not guilty to two criminal counts of attempted endangering children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, the former child star changed his plea to guilty.
“I just want to say today that I accept this claim because my conduct was wrong,” Bell said during the July 2021 sentencing hearing. “I’m sorry that the victim was harmed in any way, but that was obviously not my intention. I take this matter very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
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