Today, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in conjunction with the 18th annual National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week released a survey that indicates that more 12 year olds have used potentially deadly inhalants than cigarettes or marijuana, perceiving it to be “Safer”.
The need to increase awareness of this public health risk among physicians, parents and others is critical.
They may sniff refrigerant from air conditioning units, aerosol computer cleaners, glue, air fresheners, hair sprays, nail polish, paint solvents, degreasers, gasoline, or lighter fluids, with the intention of getting high. These substances are readily available, inexpensive, and easily hidden where they were found, in garages and household cabinets.
Most youth believe that huffing is “safer” than using illegal substances, and are unaware of its deadly potential. Most parents are not aware that use of inhalants can cause “Sudden Sniffing Death” – immediate death due to cardiac arrest – or lead to addiction and other health risks.
SAMHSA data from the 2006-2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health show a rate of lifetime inhalant use among 12 year olds of 6.9 percent, compared to a rate of 5.1 percent for nonmedical use of prescription type drugs; a rate of 1.4 percent for marijuana; a rate of 0.7 percent for use of hallucinogens; and a 0.1 rate for cocaine use.
“Parents must wake up to the reality that their child might try huffing and the consequences could be devastating,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “That’s why SAMHSA is leading the way to get information out to healthcare providers, kids, parents and everyone in the community so that our children hear a consistent message about the dangers of huffing.”
“Young people and their parents are key audiences for this important public information campaign about the clear and present dangers associated with inhalant abuse,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “With data showing that young people often don’t perceive the great risk of abusing inhalants, we must redouble our efforts to inform adolescents of the dangers and to encourage parents to be more vigilant in protecting their children from inhalants often present in common household products.”
It is possible to die from trying inhalants even once. ‘Sudden Sniffing Death’ causes the heart to beat rapidly, which can result in cardiac arrest.