March 15 to 21 is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, which serves as a reminder each year that even some very common household items can have severe health impacts if abused. Remember that substance abuse treatment is available in Denver, CO!
The focus is particularly on inhalants like aerosols, glues, solvents, paint and other products that most Americans are highly likely to have in their basements, garages, closets and under-sink cabinets. These products are frequently used without giving a second thought to their potential dangers, but it is important for people, especially parents, to be aware that these common household items can be abused as mind-altering drugs.
The practice of “huffing” has been common among kids and teenagers for decades now. It involves inhaling these types of poisonous fumes to achieve a high. In fact, one study found huffing with these household products is at least as popular among middle school students as marijuana.
Other studies have shown, though, that kids are about half as likely to experiment with inhalants if an adult has talked to them about the severe, brain-damaging consequences of huffing. The good news is that those conversations have been happening—research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates the problem of inhalant abuse has been on the decline since the mid-2000s, but it is still a significant issue across the nation that requires attention. About 17,868 young adults will abuse inhalants on any given day, approximately 500 of whom will be doing so for the first time. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that the average age of first-time huffers is 10 years old.
This behavior is, of course, troublesome. A single hit of an inhalant can result in limb spasms, loss of consciousness, nausea, disorientation and, in some cases, death. Prolonged abuse can result in hearing loss, damage to the area of the brain that controls memory, addiction, bone marrow damage, central nervous system damage, speech impediments, irregular heart rates and death.
So, what should parents and adults watch for if they suspect their child may be huffing?
- Paint stains: If you see paint stains or marks on clothing, fingers or around the mouth, this could be a sign of huffing.
- Fingernails: Keep an eye on fingernails. If they’re covered with magic marker ink, Wite-Out or other types of correction fluids, this could be a sign they’ve been huffing.
- Lighters: If you start finding butane lighters or refills among your child’s possessions, such as in their bedroom or backpack, this could be a sign of inhalant abuse.
- Empty containers: Empty inhalant or solvent containers among the child’s possessions are generally a sign of huffing.
- Missing items: If you notice certain items around your house going missing that could be used for the purpose of huffing, this could be a sign your child is getting into them.
For more information about what you can do to notice and prevent inhalant abuse and how you can encourage proper substance abuse treatment in Denver, CO if you know someone who is addicted to inhalants, contact the team at Continuum Recovery of Colorado today.