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Huffing Biggest Drug Threat for Tweens

March 12, 2010

For parents, the frontlines of the war on drugs may involve common household items such as nail polish, glue, bleach, or air freshener — this according to the results of a new national health study.

In fact, according to information compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from 2006 through 2008, more 12-year-old children are “huffing” or inhaling dangerous chemicals than using marijuana and cocaine combined.

Furthermore, according to a March 11 SAMHSA press release that helped kick off National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week, their findings “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.”

In an interview with Reuters, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde called the findings “frustrating because the danger comes from a variety of very common household products that are legal, they’re easy to get, they’re lying around the home and it’s easy for kids to buy them. Kids and parents don’t think of these things as dangerous because they were never meant to be used to be intoxicating.”

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), symptoms of inhalant abuse are similar to alcohol intoxication and include dizziness, hallucinations, belligerent behavior, impaired judgment, disorientation, inattentiveness, and depression, especially when substances are used over a long period of time.

Furthermore, the NDIC website warns that death from huffing harmful products “can occur after a single use or after prolonged use. Sudden sniffing death (SSD) may result within minutes of inhalant abuse from irregular heart rhythm leading to heart failure. Other causes of death include asphyxiation, aspiration, or suffocation.”

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