ad info

 Diet & Fitness

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Inhalant abuse kills with little public attention

inhalants in kitchen
Common household products can be toxic inhalants to young people

CNN's Eileen O'Connor shows what common household products are used by children as inhalants
Windows Media 28K 80K

March 22, 1999
Web posted at: 1:11 p.m. EST (1811 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- This week is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, declared by Congress to give Americans an opportunity to learn more about a form of substance abuse that get little public attention.

Almost one out of every five adolescents has used an inhalant to get high, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse's 1993 Monitoring the Future study of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grade students.

The institute's survey, in fact, suggests that only alcohol, tobacco and marijuana get more use among children under 18.

Even so, few people are aware of the problem -- or the serious dangers associated with inhaling substances that are readily available in most households.


•Signs of Abuse:
•Effects of Abuse:

Source: National Inhalant Prevention Coalition
More from Dr. Fishman
146K/13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Cleaning fluids, gasoline, nail polish and nail polish remover, spray cans of paint and even whipped cream, some felt tipped pens and typewriter correction fluids -- all contain volatile hydrocarbons that can cause heart failure after as little as one use.

"We are unwitting pushers in our own homes. They're under every kitchen sink, they're under our bathroom sinks," says Susan Wilson Tucker, whose daughter Jennifer was a passenger in a car driven by an inhalant sniffing acquaintance. He blacked out, lost control and slammed head on into another vehicle. Jennifer was killed.

"I made her a promise, that I would be out there, that I would do everything I could to prevent this from happening to someone else," Tucker says.

She did. She waged a practically one-woman campaign to get the Georgia General Assembly to pass legislation making it illegal to drive under the influence of inhalants.

How inhalants rank among most-abused substances
Lifetime use of selected substances by 8th, 10th and 12th graders (1991 survey)  

Stopping the growth of inhalant abuse, say both Tucker and many experts on the subject, begins at home.

"I think it's important mostly for kids to be told by their parents (of the dangers)," says Dr. Mark Fishman, a professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and medical director of Mountain Manor treatment center in Maryland.

Parents should know the warning signs of inhalant use, and learn as much as they can about sniffing, huffing (inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth) and bagging (fumes inhaled from a plastic bag).

"We talk about drugs, and we talk about alcohol, but we don't know about sniffing," says Tucker.

And what's not known about sniffing can kill -- or cause serious heart, kidney, brain, liver and bone marrow damage.

Parents need to be aware, alert and ready to talk, says Boysie Holtman, who is recovering from heroin addiction at Mountain Manor.

"Explain what drugs can do to them, and what drugs can do to their family, and what drugs can do to their childhood," says Holtman, whose addiction began, he says, with a daily sniffing habit.

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition
National Institute on Drug Abuse research report on inhalant abuse
University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research inhalants FAQs
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Affordable drug reduces mother-to-child HIV transmission, study says
A new risk factor for heart disease
The HMO debate: Who decides emergency care?
Tick-borne illness known to infect dogs found in humans
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.