Inhalant use has become a silent epidemic

If you think huffing is something just the Three Little Pigs had to watch out for, the wolf may come knocking at your door.

Huffing, bagging and sniffing are terms for inhalant use – a cheap, legal and easy way that young people get high.

Inhalant use has become a silent epidemic. Why? Parents are out of the loop. Children discuss it and practice it; adults stay in the dark.

A recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that 95% of parents believe their child has never abused inhalants. Yet, almost one in five eighth-graders has intentionally inhaled everyday office, school and household products at the risk of brain damage and even death, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse “Monitoring the Future Survey.”

Inhalant abuse, most common in the 10-12 age bracket, is also considered a gateway drug, a student’s first form of substance abuse before graduating to other drugs.

One of five students in America has used an inhalant to get high by the time he or she reaches the eighth grade. Parents don’t know that inhalants – cheap, legal and accessible products – are as popular among middle school students as marijuana. Even fewer know the deadly effects the poisons in these products have on the brain and body when they are inhaled or “huffed.” It’s like playing Russian Roulette. The user can die the first, 10th or 100th time a product is misused as an inhalant.

Inhalants are as close as the kitchen sink or your child’s classroom. Abusable products include: correction fluid, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, felt tip markers, computer keyboard cleaner, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, glue, etc.

This week is National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week. Call Prevention First and ask for a free copy of “A Parents Guide to Preventing Inhalant Abuse.”

We must educate our children about inhalants before they educate themselves. We can protect our children by working together – call Prevention First at (732) 663-1800 ext. 216 for more information.

Mary Pat Angelini

Executive Director & CEO

Prevention First