Connecticut Inhalant Task Force
Working To Eliminate Inhalant Abuse
What You Can Do
The primary focus of the New Approach to Preventing Inhalant Abuse is educating adults, not youth. Whenever discussing inhalants remember that they are toxin’s & poisons NOT drugs.
IN AN EMERGENCY
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
It is often hard to detect youth that are under the influence of inhalants, but here are some things to watch for:
· Chemical odors on clothes or breath
· Paint stains on face and hands
· Empty inhalant containers; such as lighters, aerosol spray cans, whipped cream cans, computer keyboard cleaners, etc.
· Oil or paint stains on backpacks
· Red spots around nose or mouth
· Frequent nosebleeds
· Scarves or rags with chemical odors
· Supplies of air filter masks
· Missing or ‘always empty’ household sprays or school supplies
WAYS PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS & CARE-GIVERS
CAN TAKE ACTION
It’s important for parents, grandparents and caregivers to know a little about inhalants abuse before discussing the subject with your children. Here’s some information that should be helpful.
Things To Know
1. Nearly all abused inhalants produce effects similar to anesthetics. The neurotoxin effects, and intoxication, generally last a few minutes. However, successive inhalations within a short period have serious consequences; and can cause sudden death when the chemicals in inhalants interfere with the heart’s rhythm-regulating systems and stop the heart.
2. Regular abuse of inhalants has devastating, and some irreversible, health consequences. (see the ‘Serious Health Consequences of Inhalants’ section on the About Inhalant Abuse page).
3. In 2004, 2.1 million children abused inhalants
4. Most inhalant abusers are between the age of 10 -15, when taking a risk is a normal part of growing up. Abusing inhalants seems like a ’safe’ risk because inhalants are legal and easily obtained.
5. Do not view abusing inhalants as a ’phase’, for new research shows that many inhalants are highly addictive.
6. If you discover a child abusing inhalants, DO NOT increase the abuser’s
heart rate by chasing or hollering at the individual, as this rapid increase in al
ready elevated heart rates can cause Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome.
Use Your ‘Teachable Moments’
When using a aerosol or solvent for a household project, invite your children to help you. Ask your young child to help you by reading the instructions to you, then make a point of following the guidelines for ventilation & safe use. You might also ask your child to read you the list of chemical ingredients; then, while doing the project together, you can discuss how toxic many of the ingredients are.
Simple Things Everyone Can Do
And, most importantly
Tell your children and grandchildren that you will be disappointed in them if they abuse inhalants. Tell them your opinion about abusing inhalants. Though they may not say it, or show it, your children value your opinion of them and want your approval. They don’t want to disappoint you,… so make sure they know that you care about this issue.
INCORPORATING INHALANT PREVENTION
INTO THE CLASSROOM
· For preschoolers & young children, stress that inhalants are dangerous poisons as part of existing ‘not in your mouth/body’ lessons.
· For school children, address inhalant’s poisonous effects on the environment in earth studies or science class, and on the body in health classes & basic biology.
· For older children, explore the toxic effects of inhalants in physical science & chemistry classes.
· When using an inhalant in the classroom, follow the guidelines for product usage and, no matter what the age, supervise the children’s use of products.
· Regularly monitor the supplies of inhalants kept in the classroom or school. Make sure these supplies are stored in a locked cabinet and that the key is kept in a secure location.
Everyone can help in this effort to incorporate inhalant prevention messages in your own community. Approach School Board members, Superintendents of Schools, curriculum planners, teachers unions & Parent Teacher Associations (PTA’s) in your local community and discuss ways that inhalant prevention messages could be added to existing lesson plans. Feel free to contact the CT Inhalant Task Force for our assistance in educating your community leaders about the importance of inhalant abuse prevention.
EVERYONE CAN HELP
Inhalants are available everywhere,... so young people can easily find inhalable products to abuse. The primary focus of the New Approach to Preventing Inhalant Abuse is educating adults, not youth. If you are preparing a presentation or discussion on poisons & toxins for youth DO NOT provide a ‘show & tell’ of inhalable products.
Here’s ways that individuals can help prevent inhalant abuse.
School Nurses & School Resource Officers: Learn what to look for to help identify an inhalant abuser (see What To Look For’ earlier on this page). If you discover a student abusing inhalants, DO NOT increase the abuser’s heart rate by chasing or hollering at the individual, as this rapid increase in already elevated heart rates can cause Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome.
Purchasing Agents: If your responsible for purchasing supplies for schools, hospitals, counseling centers, youth serving organizations, clergy offices, etc., please incorporate the following suggestions into your regular purchasing orders.
· Replace correction fluid with strip-style correction tape.
· Switch from aerosol cleaners to pump-spray cleaners.
· Purchase markers that are listed as Low-Odor as well as non-toxic.
· Replace spray air fresheners with solid air fresheners.
It would be impractical to eliminate all inhalants from you purchasing lists; so whenever possible switch to a non-solvent-based product. Keeping close track of inhalable products is essential, both by monitoring the supplies and by securing their storage … which includes the unfortunate inconvenience of limiting the access to inhalable products like computer keyboard cleaner, engine degreaser, whipped cream cans, spray paints, WD-40, butane, etc.
Youth Serving Professionals, Adults Mentoring Youth & DARE Officers: Non-profit youth organizations, youth sports teams, churches, municipal youth service departments and other youth serving organizations & individuals… whenever discussing inhalants remember that they are toxin’s & poisons NOT drugs.
Fire fighters: Remember to include inhalants in your discussions on fire safety, as toxic and highly flammable products.
Retailers: Please be mindful of the inhalable products sold in your store. Educate your employees to watch for quantity purchases of these products, especially by preteens. You might consider adopting a store policy to limit the quantity of inhalable products that can be purchased at one time.
1) If you discover a person abusing inhalants, DO NOT
increase the abuser’s heart rate by chasing or hollering
at the individual, as this rapid increase in already
elevated heart rates can cause Sudden Sniffing Death
2) Call 911 ...& the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222
3) Move the person to a ventilated room.
4) If unconscious, move the person on their side so they
do not asphyxiate themselves.
In the Kitchen or Bathroom: Switch to solid, pump-spray or non-aerosol air fresheners and cleaners.
In the Office: Don’t buy ‘flavor scented’ markers or aerosol computer keyboard cleaner, switch from correction fluid to strip-style correction tape.
In the Garage: Keep your paints, liquid fertilizers, lighter fluid, propane tanks, WD-40, engine starting fluid, etc in a well-locked cabinet and keep the key in a secure place
Don’t use the phrase ‘getting high’ when discussing inhalants. Instead, use the word intoxicated. Remember, inhalants are toxins and poisons, … not drugs.