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Inhalant Abuse

7% of American 12 Year Olds Are Huffing Inhalants

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posted 07:15 AM EST, Mon March 15, 2010
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American 12 year olds are more likely to use (huff) inhalants to get high than any other drug.

This week is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week – a week geared at increasing awareness about and prevention of the abuse of inhalants. Although inhalants (solvents such as gasoline, nail polish remover, glues etc that are sniffed to induce intoxication) are amongst the most toxic and neurologically harmful of abused drugs, they can produce an intense euphoric high and they are also among the most accessible to children and young teens. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that national surveys administered between 2006 and 2008 show that:

  • 6.9% of 12 year olds have used inhalants at least once

This compares to:

  • 5.1% that have ever abused a prescription drug
  • 1.4% that have tried marijuana
  • 0.1% that have tried cocaine

Inhalant use can cause brain and other organ damage and it can lead to addiction. Inhalants can also cause sudden cardiac arrest and death; known as ‘sudden sniffing death’.

Harvey Weiss, director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, says more awareness of inhalant abuse is needed to stem the continuing use of these substances. He says, "We continue to face the challenge of increasing experimentation and intentional misuse of common household products among the youngest and most vulnerable segments of our population -- 12 year olds. The data are ominous and their implications are frightening because of the toxic, chemical effects of these legal products on growing minds and bodies.”

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