The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveyed teenagers 12-17 years old on their use of inhalants. Inhalants are everyday items – like gasoline, glue, and spray paint – that people intentionally inhale in order to get high. Inhalants are so dangerous because most people have them lying around the house so they’re readily available to be abused. They’re safe when used as intended, but sniffing an inhalant can lead to Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, among many other adverse side effects.
The NSDUH survey found that use of inhalants among those ages 12-17 has decreased. In 2012, 650,000 teenagers (or 2.6% of those surveyed) admitted to using inhalants in the past year. This is down from 2011, where the rate was 3.3%.
Rates of use dropped in several demographic groups, including males, whites, those living in the Northeast and West, and those living in cities. This is great news! Inhalants are very dangerous chemicals when they are abused. Side effects may include liver, kidney, brain, and bone marrow damage. This type of damage is long-term and it cannot be easily reversed. Inhalants are both chemically and psychologically addictive if used frequently over a long period of time.
Young people are at high risk for inhalant abuse because of the availability of the inhalants. By the time a student reaches the 8th grade, one in five children will have used an inhalant to get high. A child who experiments with inhalants may later move on to using harmful substances like alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs. Don’t wait to get help!