Monday, March 17, 2008

Kids huffing household products

This is a scary topic. According to a CNN report, huffing is becoming more common than marijuana in teenage kids.

What exactly is huffing you ask? The National Drug Intelligence Agency describes it this way:

Abusers, primarily adolescents, inhale chemical vapors from a variety of substances, many of which are common household products. These young people abuse inhalants in order to obtain a euphoric effect and are often unaware of the potential risks, which include brain damage and death. Some adults also abuse inhalants, particularly nitrites. Adult abusers often inhale substances in order to enhance their sexual experiences.

Here's the CNN story:

A new study finds U.S. teens are turning more and more to common household items to get high. Inhalants are the drug of choice for adolescents 12 to 17 years old according to a new report by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The survey estimates about one million adolescent Americans use inhalants. 12 and 13 year olds use them more often than marijuana. Inhalants are liquids, sprays and gases that are sniffed or inhaled to get high. They include common household products like aerosol air fresheners, hair sprays, paint solvents, and nail polish. according to the study, glue, shoe polish,and spray paints were among the most commonly used by adolescents 12 to 15. Inhalants or "huffing" can cause severe damage to major organs even death.

How do you know if your child has been huffing? Dr. Greene's website says:

Inhalants gradually leave the body for 2 weeks following huffing--mostly through exhaling. The characteristic odor is the biggest clue. Be on the lookout for breath or clothing that smells like chemicals. Look for clothing stains. Watch for spots or sores around the mouth.

Start talking with your child about it now. Although huffing peaks between the ages of 12 and 15 years, it often starts "innocently" in children only 6 to 8 years old (Pediatrics, 1996;97:3).

Wow, There really is no way to get rid of all the household products kids could use. The list is just too long. Has anyone talked to their kids about this and if so, what did you say?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Rixblix said...

This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what kids are getting high off of. Students in my program (an alternative high school)have shared with me that they've huffed canned air purchased at the grocery store (you know, the stuff you clean your keyboard with?) and freon they've tapped from their home's air conditioning unit. They've shared that they've huffed aerosol colognes, (one brand rhymes with "wax) at school.

They've also shared their experiences "tripping" (hallucinating) on dramamine, Coricidin, and Robotussin. Typically they purchase these products and take the entire package or bottle all at one time.

These students come from average families with parents who work in both white and blue collar settings. They live in upscale homes in nice neighborhoods. These students are not always the typical "stoner" students. In fact, the students in my program who have experience with these types of intoxicants prefer them to marijuana because they are easier to access and because they say their parents are on the "look out" for 'pot' and alcohol.

Any parent who thinks their child would never do such a thing is the parent whose child it at risk.

Thanks for this piece, Jen, it's amazing all the ways young people are trying to "numb out". said...

Wow! That is shocking to me as a parent. I really appreciate you leaving the comment! I think it could open the eyes of a lot of other parents too!

Rixblix said...

I agree it's shocking. I was shocked when my students were so willing to share this information with me. These are students who have only known me for a year and they opened up about this. When I asked if their parents knew, they laughed at me. In terms of talking to our kids, there's no such thing as too young. The students that share with me range in age from 11 to 18...and most of them started when they were even younger.

In my house, we role play everything. Children need practice saying "no" and we play the "what if" game all the time. In my opinion, DARE doesn't work...all the students who share with me have been through the DARE program several times. They even laugh because some of them wrote essays that they presented during their DARE graduation, while they were high.

The answer is not locking up every possible intoxicant, but rather, teach your children how to say strangers, to best friends, to relatives. And we also role play THEM being the parent, "What would you say if I was the kid and you were the parent".

And, finally, I don't teach my kids to call me AFTER they've experimented (because I know they will) but rather, call me when your "Spide-y senses" start tingling and you start to feel uncomfortable about what's going on.

Jennifer said...

I'm not surprised, when I was in high school (late 80's) huffing was pretty popular and this was at firmly middle class Washington Co. High School.
I think availability was the big issue. Inhalants are easy to get, and you won't get busted for having them in your possession.
Thanks for posting this. It's an issue I haven't specifically mentioned to my kids in a while.

ACE News said...

Thanks for taking the time to warn about inhalant abuse! Our organization works to educate parents about the dangers of inhalants and how to recognize if their children are using them.

The link below goes to a section of our website titled "Tips for Talking", and can be used as an age-appropriate guide on how to discuss inhalant abuse with your children.


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