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This is often done in a process known as huffing, where a cloth is dipped in the desired chemicals and then held up to the nose and mouth while breathing in.
Although these everyday objects are sold at convenience stores or home improvement stores, there are many dangers of inhalant abuse. Just one try could lead to death. Some people believe that inhalants are also gateway drugs that could lead to the abuse of other substances and could eventually require addiction treatment. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the potentially fatal consequences, and the recreational use of these dangerous substances continues. This trend appears to be especially popular among the youth.
Over the years, there have been significant changes in the number of adolescents huffing and engaging in inhalant abuse, but the youth continue to be the biggest offenders. 8th graders, in particular, report higher rates of abuse than 10th and 12th graders regularly.1 The number of inhalant cases reported to poison control centers in the United States has also been most common among 14-year-olds over the years.1
Inhalant use among teens and adolescents peaked in the mid-1990s. At this time, around 13% of 8th graders, 10% of 10th graders, and 8% had reported abusing inhalants within the last year.1 Fortunately, these numbers began to consistently drop in the years following. By 2011, these numbers dropped to around 7% of 8th graders, 5% of 10th graders, and 4% of 12th graders.1 Although some young teens may be hesitant to come forward about their inhalant abuse with more information known about these dangers, outside data also supports this decrease. From 1993 to 2008, the number of inhalant cases reported to poison control centers dropped by 33%.1
Although inhalant abuse among adolescents has dropped significantly from where it once was, the abuse of these substances is slowly beginning to rise again. In 2016, 7.7% of 8th graders had admitted to using inhalants at some point in their lifetime. By 2019, this number rose to 9.5%. Similarly, 10th graders went from 6.6% of lifetime use to 6.8% and 12th graders went from 5.0% to 5.3%.2 While this is only a small increase, it is cause for concern, and inhalant abuse among adolescents should continue to be closely monitored.
Unfortunately, inhalant abuse may only be the beginning. Those young teens who are interested in experimenting with inhalants may eventually try harder drugs. By the time they are young adults, they may be addicted to one or more substances. If you believe that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, get help. At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer everything from medical detox programs to help people 18 and over safely quit to outpatient programs to keep them on track in recovery.