Magazine article USA TODAY

Girls Surpass Boys in Deadly Practice

Magazine article USA TODAY

Girls Surpass Boys in Deadly Practice

Article excerpt

Almost five percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 now use inhalants to get high, an increase from 4.1% in 2002, while boys remained fairly constant with 4.2% reporting use. Together, the data shows that an estimated 1,000,000 adolescents used inhalants in the past year, even though huffing these common household substances can be fatal, reports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Washington, D.C.

Inhalants are common household products such as shoe polish, glue, aerosol air fresheners, hair spray, nail polish, paint solvent, degreasers, gasoline, or lighter fluid. Youngsters intentionally inhale these substances to get high. Some suffer "Sudden Sniffing Death" and others become addicted. "We are urging parents to talk to their children about inhalants and take notice when their children suddenly have bad breath, face rash, and stained clothing," says H. Westley Clark, SAMHSA's director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. "This experimentation could very well end in sudden death, even with first time use."

Harvey Weiss, executive director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, adds, "When we think about a young person huffing, a vision comes to mind of a young boy hiding in his room, secretly huffing--or so I thought. However, when it comes to huffing at the youngest ages, more girls than boys are misusing common household products to get a fast, inexpensive, temporary 'high.' Among new inhalant initiates, girls start huffing at a much earlier age than boys. …

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