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For Adolescents, Inhalants Are Drug of Choice
Date:3/13/2008

But sniffing common household chemicals can be deadly, experts say

THURSDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Inhalants are being used more often than marijuana or prescription painkillers by kids on the brink of being teenagers, a new government report shows.

Inhaling common household products such as shoe polish, glue, aerosol air fresheners, hair sprays, nail polish, paint solvents, degreasers, gasoline and lighter fluid now appears to be the preferred way to get high in this age group, health officials note.

In the past year, 3.4 percent of 12-year-olds report using an inhalant, while only 1.1 percent tried marijuana, and 2.7 percent took prescription painkillers. That trend continued with 13-year-olds, with 4.8 percent using inhalants, 4 percent trying marijuana, and 3.9 percent taking prescription painkillers. By age 14, inhalant use dropped behind the use of marijuana, painkillers and other drugs.

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, with sponsorship from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, presented the results of these studies at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

"Our data show that 1.1 million 12-to-17-year-olds acknowledge using inhalants last year," Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse, said Thursday. "Our data also indicate that there are almost 600,000 teenagers [who] start using inhalants annually."

However, inhalants can cause neurological damage, along with sudden death from cardiac reactions or lack of oxygen, Clark said. Although many adolescents die from using inhalants each year, an exact number isn't known.

"The short-term effects are dizziness, nausea, confusion and lack of coordination," he said.

In addition, there been a number of reports of teens who have inhaled computer keyboard cleaners and lost control of their cars and crashed into walls an
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