Inhalant abuse can kill suddenly, and it can kill those who sniff for the first time.
Every year, young people in the United States die of inhalant abuse. Hundreds suffer severe consequences, including permanent brain damage, loss of muscle control, and destruction of the heart, blood, kidney, liver, and bone marrow.
Today more than 1,000 different products are commonly abused. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 1996 that one in five American teenagers have used inhalants to get high.
When does inhalant abuse start?
Many youngsters say they begin sniffing when they're in grade school. They start because they feel these substances can't hurt them, because of peer pressure, or because of low self-esteem. Once hooked, these victims find it a tough habit to break.
These questions and answers will help you identify inhalant abuse and understand what you can do to prevent or stop this problem.
What is inhalant abuse?
Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhalant or sniffing of common products found in homes and schools to obtain a "high."
What are the effects of inhalant abuse?
Sniffing inhalants can cause sickness and death. Victims may become nauseated, forgetful, and unable to see things clearly. Victims may lose control of their body, including the use of arms and legs. These effects can last 15 to 45 minutes after sniffing.
In addition, sniffing can severely damage many parts of the body, including the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.
victims can die suddenly and without any warning. "Sudden Sniffing Death" can occur during or right after sniffing. The heart begins to overwork, beating rapidly but unevenly, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Even first-time abusers have been known to die from sniffing inhalants.
What products are abused?
Ordinary household products, which can be safely used for legitimate purposes, can be problematic in the hands of an inhalant abuser. The following categories of products are reportedly abused: glues/adhesives, nail polish remover, marking pens, paint thinner, spray paint, butane lighter fluid, gasoline, propane gas, typewriter correction fluid, household cleaners, cooking sprays, deodorants, fabric protectors, whipping cream aerosols, and air conditioning coolants.
How can you tell if a young person is an inhalant abuser?
If someone is an inhalant abuser, some or all these symptoms may be evident:
What could be other telltale behaviors of inhalant abuse?
Inhalant abusers also may exhibit the following signs:
How does a young person who abuses inhalants die?
There are many scenarios for how young people die of inhalant abuse. Here are some of them:
Tips to prevent inhalant abuse
One of the most important steps you can take is to talk with your children or other youngsters about not experimenting even a first time with inhalants. In addition, talk with your children's teachers, guidance counselors, and coaches. By discussing this problem openly and stressing the devastating consequences of inhalant abuse, you can help prevent a tragedy.
If you suspect your child or someone you know is an inhalant abuser, what can you do to help?
Be alert for symptoms of inhalant abuse. If you suspect there's a problem, you should consider seeking professional help. Contact a local drug rehabilitation center or other services available in your community.
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