If you think "huffing" is just something the Three Little Pigs had to watch out for, the wolf may come knocking at your door.
Huffing, bagging, and sniffing are all terms for inhalant use, a cheap and accessible way that young people are getting high.
The Buena Vista County Prevention Initiative and the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) is working to raise awareness of the dangers and popularity of this deadly practice. Take time during National Inhalants and Poisons Prevention Week, March 20-26, to educate yourself and your children about inhalant abuse.
Inhalants are as close as under your kitchen sink or in your garage. There are over 1,000 abusable products, including butane, propane, gasoline, freon, degreasers, correction fluid, nitrous oxide, spray can products (spray paint, cooking spray, etc.), paint thinner, chloroform, and others.
Most people do not realize that using an inhalant is like playing Russian Roulette: users can die the first, 10th or 100th time they use. Other effects of inhalant use include brain, liver, and kidney damage; short-term memory loss; and hearing impairment.
"Most parents know how to talk to their kids about tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana because the have enough knowledge about these things, but inhalants are an informational blind spot for them," said Harvey Weiss, NIPC executive director. "Parents are often out of the loop. Children discuss it and practice it; adults stay in the dark. The goal of this campaign is to remedy that problem."
Almost one in every five eighth graders has intentionally inhaled household chemicals to get high at the risk of brain damage and even death, reports the 2004 National Institute on Drug Abuse "Monitoring the Future Survey." Over one million young people used inhalants in 2003. In 2002, 802,000 youths used inhalants for the first time. Inhalant use, most common among the 10- 12-year-old bracket, is also considered a "gateway drug", a student's first form of substance abuse before graduating to other drugs.
For information on National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week activities or inhalant use, contact the National Prevention Coalition at 800-269-4237 or www.inhalants .org, or contact Carrie with the Buena Vista County Prevention Initiative at 712-749-2548.