By sixth grade over 91 percent of parents have talked to their kids about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs like marijuana. But fewer than half have mentioned the newest trend in drug use: inhalant abuse. Sniffing inhalants ? such as airplane glue, hair spray, spray paint, nail polish remover, and cleaning fluids ? has become the drug of choice for many teens and particularly younger kids because of its accessibility (most of these inhalants can be found in homes) and the low price.
Take a quick inventory in your home. Do you have spot remover, vegetable cooking spray, or fabric protector? All of these common household items can be used to "huff," "sniff," or "bag" ?terms used for inhaling to get high. The substance is either poured into a cloth and inhaled or sprayed into a plastic bag and inhaled.
Because these substances are not considered illegal, kids may assume that the side-effects are not harmful, but inhalants can cause both short- and long-term health problems and lead to further drug abuse, even death. Other known side-effects of inhalant abuse include hearing loss and brain damage.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse include:
? Breath and clothing that smell like chemicals
? Spots or sores around the mouth
? Paint or stains on body or clothing
? Drunk, dazed, or glassy-eyed look
? Flu-like symptoms: nausea, loss of appetite
? Anxiety, excitability, irritability
Bob Canning, educator with the University of Cincinnati's OPERC (Ohio Prevention and Education Resource Center) says, "The young person may have symptoms that resemble the flu: redness around the nose, a lot of rashes around the nose and mouth, and watery eyes." The majority of abusers are boys in the middle grades, although research shows that inhalants are now making their way into elementary school also.
The good news is that we can help. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the most effective way to prevent inhalant abuse is by educating parents, who in turn will educate their kids.
For More Information and Help
The American Academy of Pediatrics:
The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition:
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign:
Ohio Prevention and Education Resource Center:
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today Magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Christian Parenting Today.