Inhalant abuse is the intentional inhalation of fumes from common household products for the purpose of getting high. And to make the situation even more alarming, these products are inexpensive, legal and easily obtained by our kids.
Examples consist of industrial or household solvents such as paint thinners or removers, degreasers, dry-cleaning fluids, gasoline, and glue or art/office supply solvents, including correction fluid and felt-tip-markers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, inhalants are second only to marijuana for illicit drug use among our young people, and most parents are unaware of their popularity.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that 18 percent of all eighth graders have used inhalants, but nine of out 10 parents are unaware or deny that their children have been involved.
Kids are not waiting until they get to junior high before abusing inhalants. Alliance for Consumer Education reports the shocking statistic that 26 percent (1 in 4) children in 6th grade have used them.
Inhalants produce a high similar to alcohol intoxication, but the high only lasts for a few minutes so users tend to inhale repeatedly.
Some of the first clues of inhalant abuse are:
• Change in behaviors at home and school
• Drop in grades, loss of interest in favorite activities
• Change in group of friends or activities
Short-term effects of inhalant abuse include euphoria, slurred speech, lack of coordination, dizziness, impaired judgment, belligerence, mood swings, headaches and muscle weakness. Hallucinations and loss of consciousness may also occur.
Long-term effects include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability and/or depression.
Death can occur the very first time or any time a person tries an inhalant. This is called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome and occurs in one of two ways: 1) the heart can go into cardiac arrest; or 2) the fumes lower oxygen levels in the lungs to the point where the user is unable to breathe and suffocates.
Other revealing signs of inhalant abusers include: 1) painting fingernails with magic markers or correction fluid; 2) sitting with a pen or marker by the nose; 3) constantly smelling clothing sleeves; 4) having lots of butane lighters and refills when the youth does not smoke; 5) hiding rags, clothes or empty containers of abused products in closets or elsewhere; and 6) having multiple household products without a reason.
In an emergency situation, call 911 and administer CPR if the child is unconscious or not breathing. If conscious, keep the child calm and in a well-ventilated area. Never leave the youth alone. Excitement may cause heart dysfunction, so stay calm and do not excite or argue with the victim.
Parents, please talk to your children about inhalant abuse soon!
Our programs are designed to further our mission and provide much needed services for our constituents. Take a look.
Fundraisers and events help us raise awareness and generate crucial resources to serve our community. Join us at our next event and see how you can get involved. Find out more.
Improve your community by joining our cause. You'd be surprised at what a huge difference a little bit of your time can make. Read more.