Marijuana, LSD, and other known drugs are not the only substances that many adolescents are abusing. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that several household products are among the most common substances abused by adolescents, and several statistical studies provide shocking proof to this.
For one, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that the main abusers of inhalants are young people between the ages of 12 and 17. Furthermore, NIDA found that at least 1 million young Americans have used inhalants at least once in 2006. NIDA also reports that inhalants are one of the first drugs abused by young children. The institute also cited a national survey which reported that around 3% of American children have tried using inhalants by the time they have reached fourth grade.
“But they are not drugs!”
The main reason why inhalants are overlooked as potential substances for abuse is the fact that these products primary use is far from intoxication. Inhalants are widely available in homes and are sold in grocery stores without special permits. They are not illegal, so adolescents have easy access to them.
According to NIDA, the commonly abused inhalants include volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites. Volatile solvents are those liquids that vaporize when left in room temperature and includes paint thinners, lighter fluid, correction fluids, and even the seemingly-innocent glue. Meanwhile, aerosols include all household, office, or cosmetic products that are sprayed (hair sprays, spray paints, etc). Gases include chloroform, ether, and butane lighter gas while nitrites are a special classification of inhalants that commonly used for sexual enhancement. Most nitrites are used for medical or diagnostic purpose and are probably the only common inhalants sold illegally.
The intoxicating effect that causes the high feeling experienced by abusers of these inhalants is an effect of the chemical vapors contained in the products. Some of the chemicals contained by these products include toulene, benzene, butane, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and hexane. These chemicals enter the body whenever they are inhaled from the container, directly in the nose, a soaked rag, or in plastic bag.
Some studies found that age plays factor on a dependent’s choice of inhalant. Those aged 12 to 15 prefer glue, spray paint, shoe polish, and gasoline while the older adolescents (16 or 17) use whipped cream dispensers and other products with nitrous oxide.
The preliminary signs that a person is under the influence of an inhalant are very similar to the effects of alcohol, which include slurred speech, delusions, dizziness, and lightheadedness. However, because these are chemicals not intended for ingestion, inhalants have far more dangerous effects to the body. Even one-time use disrupt oxygen levels and heart rhythms, which are two possible causes of death.
Prevention and treatment
Prevention is the best step towards inhibiting the abuse of inhalants, especially household products. This can be easily done by careful storage of items that are potential inhalants. And if you suspect that your adolescent is using inhalants, it is best to bring him or her to a treatment center like Miramar Recovery Center where he can get holistic healing for the mind, body, and soul.