Inhaling the Facts
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. There are over 1,000 easily accessible toxic items found in homes, schools, and work environments that can be inhaled or “huffed.”
Inhalant abuse can severely damage many parts of the body, including the nervous system, lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain. The chemicals can take the place of oxygen in the blood and may cause asphyxiation, as well as destroy brain cells. Most of these chemicals are fire hazards and could cause a fire or an explosion. Inhalants can also cause death the first time they are tried.
According to the 2009 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS), 15 percent of Aroostook County high school students reported that they have abused inhalants in their lifetime.
“The use of inhalants needs to be on parents’ radar. Parents and other youth caregivers who have an understanding of the potential dangers and signs are key in preventing inhalant abuse” said Guy Cousins, director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse. “There are many safer alternative products parents can have in their homes, as well as key messages they can pass onto their children. Parents can often spot early signs of possible use and intervene. Parents who think their children may have used or are using inhalants should be on the alert for: changes in their child’s attitudes and interests, declines in school performance, disoriented/dazed appearance, slurred speech, and chemical odors on their child’s clothes, breath or backpack.
For more information regarding what parents can do visit the websites — www.inhalantabusetraining.org or www.maineosa.org/prevention/community/inhalant.htm This article was brought to you by Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Coalition. www.asapcoalition.com or 521-2408.
Inhaling the Facts