1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Inhalant Use (Tables 5.1 to 5.3)
As seen in Table 5.1, nitrous oxide and amyl nitrites were the inhalants most frequently reported (2.3% and 2.2%, respectively). Different age groups, however, appeared to have different inhalants of choice. Among adolescents (i.e., youths aged 12 to 17), gasoline and glue (3%) were the inhalants most commonly reported. Nitrous oxide was the inhalant most frequently reported by young adults aged 18 to 25 (7%), and amyl nitrite was the inhalant most commonly reported by the two older age groups (5% and 2%, respectively). Among 12 to 17 year olds between 1996 and 1997, there was a significant increase in the lifetime rate of inhaling gasoline or lighter fluid fumes (from 1.9% in 1996 to 2.7% in 1997), spray paint (from 1.4% in 1996 to 2.2% in 1997), and anesthetics such as ether (0.2% in 1996 to 0.4% in 1997) (OAS, 1998d, Table 78B).
Inhalant Use, by Age Group, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity. Although lifetime inhalant use was highest among the 18 to 25 age group, past year use and current use were highest among 12 to 17 year olds. Current use was inversely related to age, being lowest for adults aged 26 or older and, as mentioned above, highest for youths aged 12 to 17 (2%) (OAS, 1998d, Tables 152B, 154B, 156B, and 158B).
Inhalant use also varied by gender. Among adults (i.e., those aged 18 or older), males reported higher prevalences of lifetime inhalant use than did their female counterparts; however, there were no significant gender differences for the adolescent age group. Similarly, past year use was higher among males than females in the 18 to 25 and 26 to 34 age groups.
Race/ethnicity also was associated with the prevalence of inhalant use. For both lifetime and past year use, whites were more likely to report lifetime inhalant use than either blacks or Hispanics, andHispanics reported higher rates than blacks.11 This general pattern held for each of the age groups, although not all differences were statistically significant.
Inhalant Use, by Other Demographic Characteristics. Population density and region evidenced some associations with inhalant use. Overall and for young adults aged 18 to 25, respondents living in large and small metropolitan areas were significantly more likely to have used inhalants in the past year than were those residing in nonmetropolitan areas. Overall, respondents in the West reported significantly higher levels of past year inhalant use than did those in all other regions.
Adult education was generally associated with inhalant use. Overall, past year use was higher among those with some college education than for those in all other education groups. Few statistically significant differences were found between education categories within each age group. Past year use was higher among those with some college than among those with a college degree in the 18 to 25 age group.
Current employment also was associated with inhalant use. Overall, past year use was significantly higher among those employed part-time than among those in all other employment categories. The only significant difference within age groups occurred in the 18 to 25 age group, where those employed part-time reported higher rates than those who were unemployed.
11 In the interest of readability for this report, "white" is used to indicate "white, non-Hispanic," and "black" to indicate "black, non-Hispanic."
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