Inhalant Prevention

Inhalants are common products that are in everyone’s home.  They are freely available to children and are frequently used to get high. 

A few statistics:

  • 26% (1 in 4) children in 6th grade have used inhalants (this is the drug of choice for 6th – 8th graders)
  • Fourth most abused substances after cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana
  • Can lead to later abuse of illegal drugs

 What to look for:

  • Having multiple household products without a reason
  • Hidden baggies, rags, or empty aerosols in unusual places
  • Whipped topping or other aerosols are always low on propellant
  • Child overuses perfumes, body sprays, breath mints to mask odor of solvent-based inhalants
  • Paint, other products on face, lips, nose or fingers
  • Fingernails painted with permanent markers or typewriter correction fluid
  • Constant smelling of clothing, markers, rags
  • Butane lighters (empty or partially filled ) or refill cans especially if student doesn’t smoke
  • Multiple cans or overuse of computer keyboard cleaners

Difficult to cure:

  • Traditional drug treatment facilities do not like to admit inhalant abusers
  • Failure rate is very high
  • Treatment takes months, possibly years
  • Addiction to inhalants is as strong as that to cocaine

For younger children:

  • Talk about oxygen and how it sustains life
  • Play a game: “It is safe to smell or touch?”
  • Discuss the purpose of household products
  • Read product labels together
  • Make sure children know that some household and garage items are not safe to breathe repeatedly or use recklessly.
  • Ventilate all areas
  • Educate your child by setting a good example

For older children:

  • Tell your children you love them
  • Their health and safety is your #1 priority
  • Ask if they know about inhalant abuse
  • Reinforce peer resistance skills  – Not the way to “fit in”
  • Tell them about the consequences -Inhalant abuse is dangerous, sometimes deadly
  • Monitor your teen’s activities –  Set boundaries, ask questions, be firm, know their friends, friends’ parents, and where they hang out
  • Educate teens about the dangers but do not mention specific products

This information came from: The Alliance for Consumer Education

For more information, visit these sites: