A new report based upon the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that fewer adolescents are trying inhalants like glue, lighter fluid and other common substances, but the overall number of inhalant abusers has not declined, the Associated Press reported March 16.
The report said that about 1 million youth ages 12 to 17 — about 3.9 percent of the adolescent population — used an inhalant in 2007, down from 4.4 percent in 2006. The number of teens trying inhalants for the first time was 2.1 percent in 2007, compared with 2.4 percent in 2006.
Experts said that ongoing prevention efforts that include education about the dangers of inhalant use and parental involvement with the issue were responsible for the drop.
The rate of adolescents meeting the criteria for dependence or abuse, however, was 0.4 percent, or around 99,000 teens. This number was consistent during the study period of 2002 to 2007.
The study noted that inhalants were the third most-popular choice for teens trying drugs for the first time, preceded by marijuana and prescription drugs. The most popular inhalants used by adolescent were gasoline, lighter fluid, glue and shoe polish, followed by spray paints and other aerosol sprays, correction and cleaning fluids and degreasers, and so-called “poppers,” or nitrate inhalants.
The results, released as part of National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, suggested the need for continued prevention and treatment efforts. “Most parents don’t realize how dangerous inhalants can be,” said Ed Jurith, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “These products … are among the most popular and deadly substances that kids abuse.”