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Inhalants Abuse

Generally, those with inhalants abuse problems will abuse any available substance. However, effects produced by individual inhalants vary, and some individuals will go out of their way to obtain their favorite inhalant. For example, in certain parts of the country, "Texas shoe-shine," a shoe-shining spray containing the chemical toluene, is a local favorite. Silver and gold spray paints, which contain more toluene than other spray colors, also are popular inhalants.

Data from national and State surveys suggest inhalants abuse reaches its peak at some point during the seventh through ninth grades. In the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an annual NIDA-supported survey of the Nation's secondary school students, 8th-graders also regularly report the highest rate of current, past year, and lifetime inhalant abuse; 10th- and 12th-graders report less abuse.

Gender differences in inhalants abuse have been identified at different points in childhood. The 2004 MTF indicates that 10.5 percent of 8th grade females reported using inhalants in the past year, compared with 8.8 percent of 8th grade males. Among 12th- graders, 3.4 percent of females and 4.8 percent of males reported using inhalants in the past year. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey of drug use among the Nation's noninstitutionalized civilians, reports that similar percentages of 12- to 17-year-old boys and girls abused inhalants in 2003. However, the percentage of 18- to 25-year-old males who had inhalants abuse problems within the past month was more than twice that of females in that age group, suggesting that sustained abuse of inhalants is more common among males.

In general, those with inhalants abuse problems, also known as �??huffers�?? are mostly white, middle-class persons. An estimated 1.8 million children started inhalants abuse -- mostly everyday household products -- in the past three years and 30 percent of them were only 12 or 13 years old, according a report released during National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week.

According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an average of 598,000 youth from age 12 to 17 initiated inhalants abuse in the past 12 months, using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of those who began to use inhalants, 30 percent were 12-13 years old, 39.2 percent were 14-15 years old and 30.8 percent were 16-17. SAMSHA's report said the majority of them were white from homes with incomes will above the poverty line.

"There is no bigger challenge today than being a parent. Children explore their world in ways we cannot begin to imagine," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "These new data show that too many pre-teens and young teens are sniffing or inhaling common everyday household products with potentially disastrous even deadly results. We hope to use this opportunity to help raise awareness among parents about the potential for danger in their own homes."

"The intentional misuse of common, everyday household products continues to rise for our youngest children. The unintended consequences of these choices can plague a child for years and, in some instances, be fatal, even at first time experimentation. Now is the time to marshal our collective efforts to reduce and prevent inhalant experimentation and abuse " our children's future may depend on it," said Harvey Weiss, National Inhalant Prevention Coalition executive director.

Inhalants Abuse: Dangerous and Deadly

"While overall drug use among young people has declined substantially over the past four years, we must not lose our focus. Inhalants abuse remains a dangerous and potentially deadly behavior that parents need to be aware of," said John Walters, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, "Too many parents are not aware that inhalants are as popular among middle school students as marijuana. We encourage all parents to learn the signs of inhalants abuse and to monitor their teens."

"The problem of inhalants abuse remains particularly serious among 8th-graders, who may be unaware of the damage inhalants can cause," said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Inhalants can harm the brain, liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs, and abuse of any drug during adolescence may interfere with brain development and increase the risk of addiction."

Categories of Inhalants Abuse: The report, Characteristics of Recent Adolescent Inhalant Initiates, indicates the most popular categories of inhalants abuse as:

  • Glue, shoe polish or toluene (30.3 percent)
  • Gasoline or lighter fluid (24.9 percent)
  • Nitrous oxide or "Whippets" (24.9 percent)
  • Spray paints (23.4 percent)
  • Correction fluid, degreaser or cleaning fluid (18.4 percent)
  • Other aerosol sprays (18 percent)
  • Amyl nitrite, "poppers", locker room deodorizers or "rush" (14.7 percent)
  • Lacquer thinner or other paint solvents (11.7 percent).
Street names for club drugs are XTC, X (MDMA); Special K, Vitamin K (ketamine); liquid ecstasy, soap (GHB); roofies (Rohypnol).

Reports show that repeated use of GHB has hard withdrawal affects such as insomnia, tremors, anxiety and sweating.

Ketamine abusers can build up a tolerance for the drug and an addiction.

Some effects of ecstasy would be high blood pressure, increase in heart rate and a high sense of alertness.

Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB.

In 2008, 1.3% of the 8th grade population reported abusing LSD within the year of the interview.

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