It is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, which is new to many despite the fact that over 2.6 million children, aged 12 – 17, use an inhalant each year to get high. Inhalants tend to be the first drug kids try, and it often starts in middle school. In fact, 59% of children are aware of friends huffing at age 12.
Inhalant abuse (commonly called huffing, bagging and sniffing) can be deadly, and parents need to educate themselves and their kids about what it is and the dangers of doing so.
Children are 50% less likely to try an inhalant if an adult role model talks to them about the dangers of inhalant abuse, reports Inhalant.org.
If that fact doesn't hammer home the importance of talking to your kids, this 60 second video by a parent will:
My heart breaks for this father. He implores parents to know the signs of inhalant abuse, and they include:
- Drunk, dazed, or dizzy appearance
- Glassy, glazed, or watery eyes
- Slurred or disoriented speech
- Uncoordinated movements
- Red or runny eyes and nose
- Spots and/or sores around the mouth
- Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
- Nausea and/or loss of appetite
- Behavioral/mood changes
- Chronic Inhalant Abusers may also exhibit symptoms such as hallucinations, anxiety, excitability, irritability, restlessness, or anger.
The Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit by the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) has that information and many more resources and information for parents. You can download it here. In addition, the Mayo Clinic also offers advice for parents when talking to their t(w)eens on the subject. Recommendations including:
- Talk about the risks. State the facts clearly. Emphasize that inhalants are deadly chemicals — not a harmless way to get high. Just one time huffing can be dangerous. And if the products don't kill the user, they can cause serious damage to the brain, lungs and liver.
- Listen. Ask them what they know, what they've heard, what they think about it.
- Encourage your child to come to you if he/she has any questions about Inhalants.
- Be clear and set expectations. Let your child know that you won't tolerate huffing or other types of Inhalant abuse.
- Remind your child that you love him or her — and safety comes first.
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