April 24, 2006
Bang, Sniff, Huff, Poppers, Whippets, Texas Shoeshine..." http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/govpubs/phd631/
Whatever you want to call
them, inhalants have proven to be a popular choice because they
are cheap and easy to find. Unfortunately, they are also surprisingly
unpredictable... and have been known to kill first time users and
"It was the day after
Halloween when Erica Knoll's body was found by her sister in the
bedroom of their home in Bowie, Md. Beside her lay a can of Dust-Off
computer spray, which Erica had 'huffed,' or inhaled, to get high.
David Manlove, 16, of Indianapolis, took his last breath four years
ago after he inhaled a generic computer duster. Manlove inhaled
the substance through a straw while underwater in a pool because
it was supposed to intensify the high. Jimmy Smith died at 17. He
had been inhaling butane that powered a hand torch he used to make
computers in the garage of his Avon Lake, Ohio, home. Such tragic
deaths are part of an alarming trend among American teens who are
searching for the easiest and cheapest way to get high. While computer
cleaners like Dust-Off may be the inhalant of choice, experts say
more than 1,000 household products can be used to get high--sometimes
to deadly effect."
Why are inhalants so dangerous?
your brain. Inhalants are substances or fumes from products such
as glue or paint thinner that are sniffed or 'huffed' to cause an
immediate high. Because they affect your brain with much greater
speed and force than many other substances, they can cause irreversible
physical and mental damage before you know what's happened. "Inhalants
affect your heart. Inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force
the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly--that can be dangerous
for your body.
other parts of your body. People who use inhalants can experience
nausea and nosebleeds; develop liver, lung, and kidney problems;
and lose their sense of hearing or smell. Chronic use can lead to
muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone and strength.
"Inhalants can cause
sudden death. Inhalants can kill you instantly. Inhalant users can
die by suffocation, choking on their vomit, or having a heart attack."
While users are looking
for a quick high, they may not see the side effects as something
that could ever happen to them... or they may not even be aware
of how dangerous "huffing" can be.
"* Inhalants make
you feel giddy and confused, as if you were drunk. Long-time users
get headaches, nosebleeds, and may suffer loss of hearing and sense
* Inhalants are the most likely of abused substances to cause severe
toxic reaction and death. Using inhalants, even one time, can kill
Some teens (and kids) are
experimenting, or just "messing around" with friends.
Unfortunately, "Using inhalants, even one time, can kill you..."
"Inhalant abuse can
start in elementary school and continue throughout adolescence.
For some kids, inhalants are a cheap and accessible alternative
to alcohol. Inhalants are often among the first drugs that young
kids use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the
number of new
inhalant users reached 1 million in 2002. In 2004, more than 17
percent of American eighth-graders reported abusing inhalants at
least once." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inhalant-abuse/HQ00923
Roughly one out of every
six eighth graders "reported abusing inhalants at least once..."
While this number may seem to some like "everybody's doing
it," five out of six eight graders reported that they had NOT
abused inhalants even once. This is good, because...
"Once hooked, kids
who abuse inhalants face additional health risks, including:
* Depletion of oxygen in the blood, which leads to weakness and
* Loss of feeling, hearing and vision
* Damage to the brain, bone marrow, liver and kidneys
Some of these effects are reversible, but many are not -- including
hearing loss and brain damage. ... Sometimes, death from inhalant
abuse occurs indirectly. For example, a teenager may sniff inhalants,
get behind the wheel and end up in a fatal car crash."
Finally, for those who
are not to be swayed by the direct or indirect health risks, criminal
charges await those who are found 'huffing' in some states.
"Two of the teens
were hospitalized, and all six now face criminal charges under a
new state 'huffing' law. ... A Columbia County sheriff's deputy
came upon two of the teens, who appeared to be intoxicated on the
sidewalks of Wyocena. ... Authorities told News 3 the teens led
police to a nearby home where four others had also been huffing
the compressed gas to get a cheap high, despite clear warnings on
cans saying such acts could be deadly. Last
October, a Door County mother whose son died from huffing led a
crusade to get the act on the books as a crime. It is called Aaron's
law, named after the son she tragically lost. 'We want young people
to know this isn't just some innocent and little way to have fun,
[but] that they're seriously endangering their health and their
lives,' said Gov. Jim Doyle."
Questions of the Week:
What did you know about inhalants prior to reading this? What do
you think your peers, siblings, and/ or family members know about
inhalants? Why do you think that some people ignore the warning
labels on products and misuse them as inhalants? What would make
these warning labels more effective? What do teens, children, and
parents need to know about inhalants? If you were placed in charge
of creating an advertising campaign, how would you educate teens,
children, and/ or parents about the risks of inhalant use? How would
you alter the way you presented the information to best reach each
of the different groups?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum