Approximately 143,000 young people aged 12 to 17 used inhalants in the past year while dealing with a condition like pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, or sinusitis, according to a new study sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The study determined that the rate of use was 4.4 percent among adolescents who had at least one of the aforementioned respiratory conditions, similar to the rate among adolescents overall (4.1 percent).
The use of inhalants can seriously impair the proper functioning of the respiratory system in otherwise healthy individuals resulting in unconsciousness, coma or death – so it may pose an even greater risk to those with serious underlying respiratory conditions. Under any circumstances, inhalant use, or “huffing” can cause severe permanent injury or death even after just one use. Inhalants take many forms, are easily accessible and can become very addictive.
“No one should engage in huffing. The consequences can be deadly,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “The fact that adolescents with respiratory problems are just as likely to engage in huffing as adolescents in general underscores the continued need to educate parents, teachers, service providers and young people about what they can do to prevent this misuse of common everyday products.”
The study also provides insight into the prevalence of adolescent inhalant use by various demographic factors. For example it shows that among the general population, American Indian or Alaskan Natives adolescents were more than twice as likely to engage in huffing than Black or African American adolescents (5.5 percent vs. 2.5 percent). In addition, the study examines other issues such as the types of inhalants most commonly used by adolescents with at least one of the selected respiratory conditions used in the survey (pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, or sinusitis).
The report, Adolescent Inhalant Use and Selected Respiratory Conditions, is based on data collected during 2006 to 2008 from a nationally representative sample of 67,850 persons aged 12 to 17 who participated in SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The full report is online at:http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/175/175RespiratoryCond.cfm. It may also be obtained by calling the SAMHSA Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or is available at: http://ncadistore.samhsa.gov/catalog/productDetails.aspx?ProductID=18320 For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/ .
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
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