Inhalant Abuse Down but Still Snaring Young Kids
Children as Young as 6 Inhale Household Products to Get High
Tracking Inhalant Abuse: A Closer Look continued...
That could reflect the study's look not just at users but at the severity of
the inhalant's effect, she says. "Boys may pursue riskier use behavior," she
says. Gasoline was the No. 1 product inhaled by boys; for girls it was
propellants, such as duster sprays for computer cleaning.
"People use what they are comfortable with, what's around in their
environments," Litovitz says.
''Fatality rates were higher than we expected them to be," she says.
Although 167 deaths from 35,000-plus reports may not sound high, Litovitz says
the fatality rate for young people turns out to be higher than for drugs many
parents tend to worry about.
The overall fatality rate for inhalants used in the study was 5.5 per 1,000
cases, she says. In comparison, the fatality rate per 1,000 cases for teenagers
reported in other research is 2.2 for cocaine and 3.7 for methamphetamines,
For the deadliest inhalants, the fatality rate is much higher, she says. For
instance, the death rate for butane inhalation was 58 of every 1,000.
Inhalant Abuse: Other Views
Kevin Conway, PhD, deputy director of the division of epidemiology services
and prevention research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, calls the
35,000-plus reports analyzed by Litovitz "a lot of calls."
"Given how dangerous these chemicals are to inhale, it really speaks to the
scope of the problem," he tells WebMD.
The new data, he says, will add valuable information to the data collected
by the ongoing national surveys. "I think this paper speaks to the importance
of parents being more aware of the problem."
Parents should also take note of the young age at which some start inhalant
abuse, he says. ''Inhalants are used by kids who are younger than those who
[typically] use drugs," he says.
"Parents and the public need to be more aware that inhalants are readily
available," he says."They're in the garage; they are in the bathroom."
The finding of more boys than girls inhaling products is a surprise, says
Harvey Weiss, founder and director of the National Inhalant Prevention
Coalition in Chattanooga. Other research has found differences at different
ages, with girls sometimes more likely to abuse inhalants and other times boys
In his talks to parents, he says, "One of the messages I try to get across
is, 'Your daughter may be more likely to do this than your son,'" he says.
Still, he says, the new study is valuable and will hopefully make parents
more aware. He suggests parents keep an eye on products such as computer
dusters. If cans begin to be used up quickly, he says, "that can act as an
early warning," he says. So can a sudden change in behavior, Litovitz says.