Adolescent Inhalant Use Jumps

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National survey shows that nearly ten percent of 8th graders used inhalants last year

The good news is that overall drug abuse by teenagers is still down, but the use of prescription drugs and inhalants has increased. The results of the 2004 Monitoring the Future Study showed that annual use of inhalants by 8th grade students has increased to 9.6 percent, up from 7.7 percent just two years ago. The survey is conducted annually by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to assess drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students.

The latest information from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which tracks drug-related emergency department admissions, showed an increase of 187 percent of inhalant mentions from 2001 to 2002. The total number of new inhalant users in 2002 was about one million Americans, with 78 percent of them under the age of 18.

Inhalants are generally classified into three categories, solvents, gases and nitrates. Examples of these chemicals include paint thinners, glue, gasoline, butane, nitrous oxide, ether, cleaning products and aerosol sprays for paint, hair and deodorant.

Most of the chemicals that are sniffed or “huffed” are commonly found in the household, where young children and adolescents can easily obtain them.

Use of inhalants brings many negative effects on a person aside from the initial high they may feel. Adverse effects of sniffing toxins include damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys and brain, which opens up to a variety of symptoms and illnesses. Sniffing high concentrations of some chemicals can cause heart failure and even death.

“We’ve seen what inhalants can do to a person,” comments Gary W. Smith, who is a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor and is the Executive Director of Narconon Arrowhead. The center is one of the nation’s largest and most successful drug rehabilitation and education programs by using the effective drug-free methodology developed by L. Ron Hubbard. “After years of inhalant abuse there are very definite signs of permanent damage, even when the person is now drug-free.”

A report was released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, which is March 20-26. In the report found that 12 and 13 year-olds who used inhalants were more likely to experiment with other drugs in the future and engage in delinquent behavior than kids who never tried sniffing.

Based on information from the 2002 and 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young person’s who used inhalants were twice as likely to be in a serious fight and six times more likely to have stolen or attempted to steal something worth more than $50.

Effective drug education and prevention programs can help reverse this trend and the behavior associated with it. Programs like Narconon Arrowhead can help. For more information about Narconon Arrowhead or to get help for a loved one in need, call 1-800-468-6933 today or visit http://www.stopaddiction.com.

You may also view more statistics on inhalant use at http://www.inhalants.org and http://www.oas.samhsa.gov.

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Luke Catton
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