The National Parenting Center

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“Huffing” Inhalants

Inhalants are a group of volatile (breathable) substances abused by sniffing/inhaling. These are legal substances, most of which are found in everyday household products; not normally thought of as drugs, they have drug-like effects on users. Regulation for misuse is difficult, and the best prevention is educating children about the lethal effects of misuse.
Inhalants are most often abused by young people between the ages of 7 and 17…probably because these substances are readily available and inexpensive. For example, in the kitchen one can find ammonia, bleach, butane, cooking sprays, correction fluids like white outs, disinfectants, furniture polish, insecticides, lighter fluid, drain cleaners and oven cleaners.
In the bedroom and bathroom one finds deodorants, hair sprays, moth balls, nail polish and remover, air fresheners, cough/cold remedies, asthma remedies, and perhaps even amyl nitrate, an inhalant legitimately used in treating heart patients.
In the garage and workshop one can find gasoline, transmission fluid, modeling glues, car wax, antifreeze, aerosol sprays, felt tip markers, rust removers, paint thinners, solvents, spray paints, turpentine, fertilizers, and pesticides.
Symptoms of use are nausea, drowsiness, sluggishness, sores around the mouth area, red or runny eyes, unusual breath odor, dazed or dizzy appearance, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability, loss of coordination, confusion, and possible hallucinations.
What to do: Label products with skull and crossbones or “poison”. Clearly spell out the dangers of misuse. Sudden death can result when inhaled sprays interfere with breathing or cause irregular heart beats. Convulsions and death occur most often from the use of aerosol products. Inhalants also cause permanent damage to lungs, brain, live, and bone marrow. impairment of memory, thinking skills, and vision can also occur.
For more information, call or write the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, PO Box 2345, Rockville MD, 20852. Phone 301-468-2600.

Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com

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