Statistics on Inhalants Show Young Teens at Risk
For some 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds, getting high
is as simple as looking under the sink in the kitchen
or out in the garage.
Household cleaning fluids, solvents, glue, and spray
paints are among the most frequently abused, common
substances categorized as “inhalants.” Inhalants
are defined as liquids, sprays, and gases that people
sniff or inhale to get high.
According to Inhalant Use across
the Adolescent Years,
a recent report from SAMHSA’s National Survey
on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), inhalants are used by
young teens age 12 to 13 more than any other class of
Glue, shoe polish, and toluene (a solvent) were the
most frequently mentioned types of inhalants used among
youth age 12 to 17 who used inhalants for the first
time in the 12 months before the survey. A total of
29.6 percent of respondents reported use of inhalants
in this category. Gasoline or
lighter fluid and spray paints (25.7
and 24.4 percent, respectively) followed.
As part of National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness
Week in March, SAMHSA released this report as well as
a report on treatment admissions for inhalant abuse.
In addition to household products, inhalants are found
in a range of inexpensive and readily available office,
industrial, and automotive products.
In the report, combined data from 2002 to 2006 indicate
that an annual average of 593,000 adolescents age 12
to 17 had used inhalants for the first time in the year
before they took the survey.
While percentages of adolescents using most illicit
drugs generally increased with age, the rates of past-year
inhalant use increased steadily from 3.4 percent at
age 12 to 5.3 percent at age 14, then declined to 3.9
percent by age 17.
Types of inhalants used also varied by age. Among past-year
initiates age 12 to 15, common inhalants included gasoline
or lighter fluid. Comparatively, nitrous oxide or whippets
were the most common type of inhalant used among past-year
inhalant initiates age 16 or 17.
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In another report from SAMHSA, Adolescent
Admissions Reporting Inhalants: 2006, data showed that adolescents
age 12 to 17 represented 48 percent of all substance
abuse treatment admissions reporting inhalants.
report from the Drug and Alcohol Services
Information System (DASIS) examines adolescent substance
abuse treatment admissions who reported using inhalants
and compares them with those adolescent admissions who
did not report using inhalants.
According to the report, adolescents who reported inhalant
abuse were more likely to have a co-occurring mental
health problem. Forty-five percent of adolescent admissions
reporting inhalants had a concurrent psychiatric disorder,
in contrast to only 29 percent who did not report inhalants.
Both reports are available online on SAMHSA’s
Web site at www.oas.samhsa.gov.
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