Spray paint and adolescents:  The dangers of inhalant abuse

Contact: Peter Kerr, (212) 595-5810. Ext. 7851             

For Immediate Release


National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week

, March 19-25

(New York, March 14, 2000) — Millions of young Americans abuse inhalants, threatening their lives and health, according to Craig Cobb of the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), an affiliate of Phoenix House, a nationally recognized substance abuse services organization.  One in five Americans of middle school age report having inhaled common household products.  Mr. Cobb emphasizes that National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week, March 19-25, is an important occasion for parents, educators and others involved with youth to understand the dangerous effects and signs of abuse of these legal drugs.

What Are Inhalants?  Inhalants are drugs that produce a quick, temporary high when their fumes or gases are breathed and absorbed into the body through the lungs.  Compared with other drugs, inhalants are readily available and relatively cheap.  Many of them can be obtained legally by minors — more than a thousand common household products can be used to get high.  These include cooking sprays, liquid floor cleaners, paint thinners, nail polish remover and a wide variety of glues.

Effects:  Short-term effects include dizziness, mental confusion, heart palpitations, coughing and nosebleeds.  Even first-time users run the risk of sudden sniffing death.  Heavy and repeated use of inhalants increase the risk of brain damage, respiratory depression, and liver and kidney disease.

Signs of Abuse:  Signs to look for include inflammation of the nostrils, poor appetite and loss of weight, slow slurred speech, watery bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.

“Inhalants are easy to get hold of, even for kids,” advises ACDE’s Mr. Cobb.  “They seem safe, but they can cause permanent brain damage or death.  And the easiest to get, like glues and gasoline, are the most dangerous.

“As we mark National Inhalants Week, parents, educators and other involved with youth should recognize that they are the front line of defense against these extremely hazardous substances. By discussing the dangers of inhalants, they really can help prevent a tragedy.”

For additional information on inhalants and ACDE prevention products, call 1-800-488-DRUG, or visit on-line at www.acde.org.

Phoenix House is the nation’s leading non-profit provider of substance abuse treatment and prevention services.  It treats nearly 5,000 adolescents and adults in residential and outpatient programs in Texas, New York, California, Florida and New EnglandFounded in 1967, Phoenix House has treated more than 75,000 young people in need  — saving lives, and strengthening families and communities.  To learn more, visit Phoenix House on-line at www.phoenixhouse.org.


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