Many Youths With Respiratory Conditions Use Inhalants

Over 4 percent of adolescents in general and those with respiratory condition report past-year use

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- More than 4 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 have used an inhalant in the past year, including many with a respiratory condition such as pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma or sinusitis, according to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The authors, who combined survey data from 2006 to 2008, found that an estimated 2.4 million adolescents (9.7 percent) had used an inhalant -- defined as "liquids, sprays, and gases that people sniff or inhale to get high or to make them feel good" -- in their lifetime, and one million (4.1 percent) had used an inhalant in the past year.

The report also notes that, of adolescents with at least one of these respiratory conditions in the past year -- asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis -- 4.4 percent also used an inhalant in the past year. The inhalants most often used by adolescents with at least one of the four past-year respiratory ailments were glue, shoe polish, or toluene; gasoline or lighter fluid; and spray paints.

"Inhalants are easily accessible, cheap, and easy to hide; they are also addictive and deadly. An estimated 44,000 adolescents use inhalants and place their lives and health at risk on any given day. Inhalant use may exacerbate existing medical conditions, such as respiratory conditions. Yet adolescents with respiratory conditions are no less likely to use inhalants than those in the general population," the authors write.

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