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Girls surpass boys in deadly practice.

Almost five percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 now use inhalants to get high, an increase from 4.1% in 2002, while boys remained fairly constant with 4.2% reporting use. Together, the data shows that an estimated 1,000,000 adolescents used inhalants in the past year, even though huffing these common household substances can be fatal, reports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, D.C.

Inhalants are common household products such as shoe polish, glue, aerosol air fresheners, hair spray, nail polish, paint solvent, degreasers, gasoline, or lighter fluid. Youngsters intentionally inhale these substances to get high. Some suffer "Sudden Sniffing Death" and others become addicted. "We are urging parents to talk to their children about inhalants and take notice when their children suddenly have bad breath, face rash, and stained clothing," says H. Westley Clark, SAMHSA's director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. "This experimentation could very well end in sudden death, even with first time use."

Harvey Weiss, executive director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, adds, "When we think about a young person huffing, a vision comes to mind of a young boy hiding in his room, secretly huffing--or so I thought. However, when it comes to huffing at the youngest ages, more girls than boys are misusing common household products to get a fast, inexpensive, temporary 'high.' Among new inhalant initiates, girls start huffing at a much earlier age than boys. This means that parents, health care professionals, and educators must start talking with preteen girls about the dangers of inhalants before it is too late."

"Young people who turn to inhalants may be completely unaware of the serious health risks," explains Timothy R Condon, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Washington, D.C. "We know that inhalant abuse can start early, with research suggesting that even preadolescent children seek out inhalants because they are easy to obtain.

"Our 'Monitoring the Future' study shows that eighth-graders have abused inhalants at a higher rate than 10th-graders every year from 1991 to 2006. NIDA research also indicates that those who first begin using inhalants at an early age are more likely to become dependent on them--and that long-term inhalant abusers are among the most difficult drug abuse patients to treat."

"The intentional misuse of commercial inhalants, like butane and toluene, can lead to death, addiction, and other very serious health problems," warns Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "Store owners, educators, medical professionals, parents, and especially young people enrolled in middle school and high school need to be aware of the dangers of misusing inhalants. Now is the time to raise awareness of this national drug problem, and work to prevent our youth from the cycle of inhalant addiction."
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Title Annotation:inhalant addiction
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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