About Inhalant Abuse
SOME BASIC QUESTIONS
that you can die from abusing
inhalants,…even if it’s done just for a few seconds, ...even if it’s your
Sudden Sniffing Death
and it’s caused by heart arrhythmia and changes in adrenaline as a result of
What is Inhalant Abuse?
Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhalation of
fumes, gases or vapors for the purpose of intoxication.
What are Inhalants?
Inhalants are toxins and poisons,… not drugs.
Inhalants are defined as breathable chemical vapors that produce
psycho-active [mind altering] effects.
unique among abused substances because they are universally available and
are legally obtained & sold. Inhalants are
that are used everyday in households, offices, garages, etc. and are
generally divided into four groups: aerosols, solvents, gases
THE NEW APPROACH TO PREVENTING INHALANT ABUSE
The primary focus of the
New Approach to Preventing Inhalant Abuse
is educating adults, stressing that inhalants are
poisons & toxins,
NOT DRUGS, and incorporating age-specific information into the curriculums
and ‘teachable moments’ of children & youth.
Approximately 10 years ago inhalant prevention
presentations were initiated for pre-teens and teens; and they generally
involved a ‘show & tell’ approach that, unfortunately, became informational
forums for youth about how they could ‘get high’ with inhalants. Data
from the last ten years has shown an increase in the
number of inhalant abusers under 16 years old; as well as younger and
younger children regularly abusing inhalants,
children as young as 11 years old.
This data tells us that using a new approach to preventing inhalant abuse is
The new prevention
approach concentrates on educating adults
about the dangers of inhalants and inhalant abuse. The prevention for
youth is specific for each age range and is centered around incorporating
the message of
“inhalants as toxins & poisons”
into ‘teachable moments’ and curriculums of youth-serving professionals,
educators, clergy, care-givers, parents, etc. The new approach to
inhalant prevention completely eliminates the ‘show & tell’ approach to
Some Things To Remember:
include inhalants in a list of ‘other drugs’ when doing an ‘alcohol,
tobacco and other drugs’ presentation.
are poisons & toxins,
talking to youth about inhalants, there are distinctly different
approaches to use which depend on the age of the child. (see
talking to a child or doing a presentation for youth,
DO NOT include:
1) a ‘show & tell’ of inhalable products,
2) a presentation display aid that pictures inhalants
and/or their paraphernalia,
3) a listing of places that inhalants can be obtained in
inhalants in your discussions on fire safety. Stress that they are
toxic and highly flammable products.
THE SERIOUS HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF INHALANT ABUSE
As a group, inhalants cause polyneuropathy which is
changes or malfunctions of the nerves, both in the central nervous system &
the peripheral nervous system. The neural effects can include:
seizures, tremors, brain damage, brain stem
(involuntary oscillation of the eyeballs),
slow & slurred speech, unsteady gait,
impaired muscle coordination, dulled senses, deterioration of the myelin
(the protective coating around the nerves) and
salt & electrolyte imbalances.
Gaseous and nitrite inhalants: act as anesthetics
and can cause:
peripheral nerve damage,
bone marrow, increasing the risk of developing
impair the immune system,
change blood pressure,
depress heart muscle functions,
(permanent damage due to lack of oxygen).
Aerosol & solvent inhalants can cause:
effect the rhythm controlling tissues of the heart,
suppress the immune system,
injure red blood cells
with their ability to carry oxygen),
cause atrophy of the optic nerve,
destroy sound-relaying cells,
resulting in kidney stones,
symptoms that resemble
have been shown to cause cirrhosis
of the liver
Due to the
excessive brain damage caused by inhalants,
long-term memory deficits, problems with reasoning and lack of alertness &
concentration can occur. For chronic abusers,
only one-third of lost cognitive function
after one year of non-abuse!
THE CURRENT NUMBERS
1 out of 4
6th to 8th graders had tried an inhalant.
That’s 25% of our nation’s children ages 11-13!
In 2004, inhalants were the most abused substance for youth age 12 &
In 2004 inhalants replaced marijuana as the most abused substance of
Other National Stats:
1994 inhalant users 627,000*
2001 inhalant users 1,100,000*;
71% were under the age of 18
2002 - 10.5% of the nations youth age 12-17 are abusing
2004 - 2.1 million U.S. children abused inhalants,
a 44% increase from
^ Data from the: Partnership for a Drug Free America; March 18,
° Data from the: Department of Health & Human Services ‘Monitoring
the Future’ 2004 Survey
* Data from the: National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research
Report March 2004
** Data from the: National Survey on Drug Use & Health; March 2005
Richard Scatterday, Kaiser Permente
¨ Dr’s Art
Reigel & Ed French, University of Arizona at Tucson