The culprit is legal, poisonous, cheap, accessible, and right in your home. Children and teens are using household products to get high. In an effort to raise awareness to parents, students and community members regarding this somewhat overlooked substance use, the National Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week (NIPAW) will be observed March 17-23, 2013. This prevention week will focus on providing education, resources, and information on risks of inhalant use.
The problem has a presence in Putnam County. According to the 2012 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey, 6.8% of student’s grades 8-12 have used inhalants to get high in their lifetime. 2.1% of student’s grades 8-12 have used inhalants to get high one or more times in the past 30 days.
According to The Partnership for a Drug Free America, “Inhalants are ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed by children to get high.” Examples of products intentionally used to get high are computer keyboard cleaner (such as Dust Off), cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, paint thinners, and even model airplane glue. The slang for inhalant use includes glue, kick, sniff, huff, Texas Shoe Shine, etc.
What are the side effects to inhalant use? Due to the oxygen deprivation that goes along with this particular substance use, the effects can be fatal. “The user can experience slight stimulation, feeling of less inhibition or loss of consciousness. The user can also suffer from Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This means the user can die the 1st, 10th or 100th time he or she uses an inhalant. Other effects include damage to the heart, kidney, brain, liver, bone marrow and other organs” (National Inhalant Prevention Coalition).
What are signs that parents and guardians can look for if they suspect their child is abusing household products? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, here are a few signs:
- Slurred speech
- Drunk, dizzy, or dazed appearance
- Unusual breath odor
- Chemical smell on clothing
- Paint stains on body or face
- Red eyes
- Runny nose
“Prevention is the key. Parents are encouraged to keep an inventory of potentially harmful chemicals in their household and talk to their children, no matter how young, about the dangers or sniffing or ingesting harmful substances. Let your children know that inhalants can not only severely damage their bodies, but can cause violent behavior that can hurt those around them.” stated Joseph DeMarzo, Deputy Commissioner of the Putnam County Mental Health/Social Services/Youth Bureau.
“If you are a student and know someone who uses inhalants, encourage them to stop or get help. Let them know the ramifications of the use. If you are using inhalants, it’s never too late to talk to an adult you trust and make the necessary steps to recovery.” stated Elaine Santos, Coalition Coordinator for the Putnam County Communities That Care Coalition.
Members of the Putnam CTC Coalition are available if you have any questions or would like for us to do a presentation to your organization on this or any other substance abuse trends that affect our children. Please call the Putnam County Communities That Care Coalition at 845-225-4646, Ext. 13 for information and referrals. Please visit and join us on Facebook by searching “Putnam County Communities That Care – NY” or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/PutnamCTCNY or call 845-225-4646.