Inhalants Are Drug of Choice for Preteens
Katie Drummond Contributor
AOL News (March 12) — They’re cheap, easy to access and offer a quick high. But inhalants such as nail polish, cleaning spray and bleach can also be deadly. Now, new statistics suggest that preteens are using common household products as intoxicants more than all other drugs combined, but are often unaware of the accompanying risks.
The most recent available data were collected between 2006 and 2008 and compiled by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
According to the survey, 7 percent of 12-year-olds have gotten high using an inhalant, while 5 percent have used prescription drugs and 1.4 percent have tried pot.
There’s actually been little change in the percentage of adolescents using inhalants in the last decade. But health experts are increasingly concerned that they don’t seem to consider it a risky activity. A 2008 poll by Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, showed than 59 percent of eighth-graders considered huffing, as the practice is called, “a great risk,” compared with 72 percent in 2001.
“We know, historically, that when the perception of risk declines, we often almost always see an increase in use,” Dr. Timothy Condon of the National Institute on Drug Abuse told Reuters.
The latest survey showed that inhalants were second only to alcohol as the intoxicant of choice for 12-year-olds.
Access is a major catalyst for inhalant abuse. The products are legal, inexpensive and common in every household. If you’ve got air fresheners, hair spray, computer cleaner or even glue, you have access to a potentially dangerous intoxicant. And those dangers can lead to serious consequences.
Huffing causes a quick euphoria, followed by a loss of coordination and control. Users can even hallucinate. The effects don’t last long, so the process is often repeated several times throughout the day.
The act, usually done by holding a rag over one’s mouth or inhaling the fumes from a bag, stresses the heart, which can lead to fatal cardiac arrest — even in a first-time user. It’s a phenomenon called sudden sniffing death and causes up to half of all huffing-related deaths, according to a 2003 study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Chronic abuse can cause fatigue, liver and kidney impairment, as well as permanent brain damage.
“Parents must wake up to the reality that their child might try huffing,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hinton said at a news conference. “And the consequences could be devastating.”
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- Report: 12-year-olds abusing inhalants (cnn.com)
- U.S. Children Turn to Inhaling to Get High (nlm.nih.gov)
- Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome Kills With One Puff (abcnews.go.com)
- Teens ‘addicted to air conditioner gas’ (thejc.com)
- ACE Launches Multimedia Campaign to Support Inhalant.org and the Prevention of Inhalant Abuse (eon.businesswire.com)
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