Recently we heard the news of a 14-year old dying after inhaling helium at a party. Helium that is used inflate balloons – as innocent as it may seem, it also can kill when used inappropriately. This is no different than many other household products.
What is inhalant abuse?
Inhalant abuse refers to the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common products found in homes and communities with the purpose of “getting high.” Inhalants are easily accessible, legal, everyday products. When used as intended, these products have a useful purpose in our lives and enhance the quality of life, but when intentionally misused, they can be deadly. Inhalant Abuse is a lesser recognized form of substance abuse, but it is no less dangerous. Inhalants are addictive and are considered to be “gateway” drugs because children often progress from inhalants to illegal drug and alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high.
Here is a list of inhalants that are in many homes – click here.
Huffing, bagging, sniffing and dusting – what is it?
Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual’s head, cutting off the supply of oxygen. Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.
How prevalent is Inhalant abuse in the United States?
Over 2.1 million kids, ages 12 – 17, have used an Inhalant to get high. 1 out of 5 school-aged children in America has intentionally abused a common household product to get high by the time they reach the eighth grade. Because Inhalants are easily accessible they tend to be a drug of first use. In fact, they are as popular as marijuana among young people. Inhalant Abuse, also called “sniffing” and “huffing,” usually begins at age 10 or 11. Children as young as six, however, begin experimenting with Inhalants. No one knows for certain how many lives Inhalant Abuse claims each year because Inhalant Abuse deaths often are attributed to other causes.
Learn more – visit www.inhalant.org