Inhalant Abuse: The Fight Continues

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Burning Tree, a long term treatment center, announces that inhalant abuse is still on the rise and watching for warning signs of abuse will help prevent addiction.

Burning Tree announces a major find that accessibility to common household products continues to threaten the health and safety of young people in America who use these products as inhalants. Despite restrictions imposed on certain products in retail stores, the availability of products such as glues, hair sprays and whipped cream canisters makes inhalant abuse one of the most challenging areas in the fight against substance abuse. The growing amount of attention placed on prescription drug abuse and illicit drug use among teenagers also tends to diminish the awareness of inhalant abuse.

While evidence suggests that the cases of inhalant abuse are dropping in recent years, surveys estimate that more than 22 million Americans have used inhalants at least once. One survey, NIDA's Monitoring the Future, puts the number of 8th graders who have used inhalants at close to 15 percent. For parents with children who are pre-teens and teenagers, it’s a time to be vigilant about inhalant abuse.

Dealing with the abuse effectively involves understanding its potential outcomes. Even one use of an inhalant can disrupt heart function and lead to death from cardiac arrest or lack of oxygen. A person whose abuse of inhalants is ongoing may damage vital organs, including the brain, heart, kidneys and liver. The timing of an intervention is crucial in reducing the risk of repeated incidents of inhalant abuse and the potential for more irreversible damage to the body.

Knowing the warning signs of inhalant abuse is one way to identify a potential problem. The responsibility is a shared one among parents, educators, family physicians and other responsible adults and peers. The signs include paint stains on the skin or clothes, chemical odors on clothes or breath, saved chemical-soaked rags and empty solvent containers, slurred speech, disoriented behavior, nausea and loss of appetite, inattentiveness, irritability and depression.

Here are a 3 major tips for parents on inhalant abuse
1. Take inventory in your household products to notice if certain products are missing or used up quickly.
2. Educate yourself about the most abuse products.
3. Talk to your child about inhalants and if they have friends, heard about people or have experimented themselves with inhalants.

Students in 8th grade are at the highest level of risk, according to a NIDA survey. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that 70 percent of people who had used inhalants for the first time in the year prior to the survey were under the age of 18. Although the usage is still a serious threat, figures show the cases of inhalant abuse between 1993 and 2008 dropped 33 percent.

Recognition of ongoing inhalant abuse demands immediate attention and referral to rehabilitation for detoxification, treatment and recovery. If the inhalant abuse stems from or coincides with a co-occurring mental disorder, a long-term rehabilitation program may be the most effective response. Unlike an outpatient service, a long-term program can provide immediate and ongoing monitoring of a teenager or young adult who has been regularly abusing inhalants, and can teach strategies to help avoid future inhalant abuse.

Referrals for inhalant abuse may be made to Burning Tree in Texas. Addiction specialists at the long-term residential facilities—outside of Dallas and Austin, Texas—treat inhalant abuse as one of the full services provided to curb substance abuse and addiction. More information about the programs and admissions process is available on line at and by phone at 866-287-2877.


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Michael Smith