Why Worry About Inhalant Abuse?
The Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE), a Washington, DC based nonprofit foundation, is concerned about Inhalant Abuse and the fact that one in every five children (22%) in grades 6 - 8 have admitted to abusing a common household product, makes us worry. Recent research has shown that Inhalant Abuse – the practice of sniffing household products to get “high”- is sharply on the rise among American children and pre-teens. According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey, a startling 2.7 million youth used inhalants in the past year!
A broad coalition of caring supporters has pledged to bring awareness about the dangers of Inhalant Abuse to parents, families and communities. Through ACE, members of industry, nonprofits, community groups and parents are fighting to address this dangerous behavior by educating others. ACE partners in this education program with the American School Counselor Association, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Over 1400 household and industrial products are often misused as Inhalants because they are inexpensive, easy to get, and attractive to those who have less access to illegal substances than older kids and they are legal. Worry? Most 6th-8th graders don’t seem to worry. Current studies of risk perception have gone down for the past three years and, not surprising, usage has gone up – as much as 44%. Parents also are less informed when it comes to Inhalants, or, they simply choose to believe their child wouldn’t do this.
Probably the most frightening aspect of Inhalant Abuse is that every episode is potentially fatal. The very first time a child huffs or sniffs can result in death. In fact, an estimated 50% of Inhalant-related deaths are caused by Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome – cardiac arrest brought about by a sudden release of chemicals in the body and brain.
There is something that can be done; as parents and concerned community leaders you can check with your local elementary and middle schools to find out if they have the Alliance for Consumer Education’s Inhalant Abuse Education and Prevention kit. These kits contain everything a school counselor, teacher or school nurse needs to present an education workshop for parents. The kits are provided by ACE free of charge to any school requesting them. Next, ask your child’s school to plan a workshop or parent education night – in fact, help them plan it.
There are several hundred Inhalant Abuse deaths every year, probably many more go undetected. Our mission is to prevent these deaths through education and increased awareness. Should you worry about Inhalant Abuse? Absolutely, we all should, but there are actions we can take to increase awareness and help prevent future tragedies.
Please take a moment to visit our website, www.Inhalant.org, to learn more about this risky behavior and ways to help prevent it. Now, talk to your children about the dangers associated with Inhalant Abuse – they need to know!
If you have questions or comments, contact ACE at www.ConsumerEd.org or 900 17th Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006, 202-862-3902.