The Youth Movement – The Dangers of Inhalants

The Youth Movement – The Dangers of Inhalants

In the Spring 2009 issue of AAMC Magazine, we highlighted the story of Janna Zuber, a Mitchellville resident who lost her son Justin to “sudden sniffing death syndrome,” a condition that can occur on the first, fifth, tenth, or hundreth time someone abuses an inhalant – a practice known as “huffing.”

Janna’s story calls attention to a problem outlined a recently-released report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released on March 16, 2009.   While the study highlights some positive trends in the rate of adolescent inhalant use, the study also exposes the dangers of inhalants.

  • In 2007, 17.2 percent of youths identified inhalants as the first drug they used, a rate that remained stable since 2002.
  • More than 1 million adolescents used inhalants in 2007.
  • The study found adolescents abusing aerosols, nitrous oxide, lighter fluid, shoe polish, spray paint, and paint solvents.

Inhalants can be lethal, but they can also cause a host of irreversible effects including hearing loss, limb spasms, and damage to the central nervous system that may impact a person’s ability to walk, talk, or perform simple tasks.

For years, parents have battled familiar opponents: marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and even prescription drugs.  But now, parents must remain vigilant against an entirely new drug of choice among teenagers curious to experiment with substances – found in the home – that they may view as harmless.

To help parents on the right track to awareness and how they can educate their children, AAMC has posted a new podcast titled “The Youth Movement,” which discusses inhalants and their dangers.  In the podcast, Helen Reines, R.N., executive director of Pathways, AAMC’s drug and alcohol treatment center, provides parents a list of warning signs, helpful hints at identifying a potential problem, and how to get help if you think your child may need it.

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