Sniffing Trumps Weed for 12-Year-Olds

More 12-year-olds in the U.S. get high by sniffing inhalants than by using marijuana, cocaine or hallucinogens combined, a new government report finds.

A survey released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration finds that lifetime use of potentially deadly inhalants among 12-year-olds was 6.9 percent in 2008, compared with 5.1 percent for illegal prescription drugs, 1.4 percent for marijuana, 0.7 percent for hallucinogens and 0.1 percent for cocaine.

“We continue to face the challenge of increasing experimentation and intentional misuse of common household products among the youngest and most vulnerable segments of our population – 12 year olds,” Harvey Weiss, executive director for the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, said in a statement. “The data are ominous and their implications are frightening because of the toxic, chemical effects of these legal products on growing minds and bodies.”

Products that young Americans sniff include aerosol cans, glue, paint solvents and lighter fluid, among others. Experts warn that these inhalants can cause cardiac arrest, known as “sudden sniffing death.”

The data, found in the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, was released in conjunction with the 18th annual National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week.

Sniffing has been a fairly steady trend among 12-year-olds in recent years, according to Joseph Gfroerer, director of SAMHSA’s division of population surveys. The lifetime rate has fluctuated between 7.7 percent and 6.1 percent since 2002.

More broadly, 1.1 percent of children ages 12 to 17 engaged in sniffing in 2008, compared with 6.7 percent who smoked marijuana.

According to Dr. Timothy Condon, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the data on inhalants abuse presents a number of potential troublesome trends.

“There’s a disturbing downward trend among high schoolers who see ‘great risk’ in using inhalants once or twice a week,” Condon said in a statement. “At the same time, the survey shows that inhalant use isn’t declining as much as it has in recent years among eighth and tenth graders. If today’s attitude translates into future use, we have reason to be concerned.”

Also present at the news conference kicking off the awareness week was Ashley Upchurch, a 17-year-old recovering from an inhalants addiction, who warned of the dangers of sniffing.

“Inhalants were a cheap, legal, and an intense high that would also enhance the feeling I would get from other drugs,” she said. “These highs nearly destroyed my life.”

– Article from CBS News.



  1. ZachB on

    Its obviously a problem but when teenagers take a survey will always select the funniest option, I myself have taken one of these tests and know all of my high school buddies did the same thing I did. The surveys are technically voluntary but usually forced on you by a teacher after finishing a academic project and I’d guess over 50% of kids don’t take it seriously at all. The question in my particular survey can be roughly quoted “as how often do you inhale glue?”

    Its definitely a problem that requires a lot of attention and awareness but their statistics are definitely flawed.

  2. Dave on

    Hate to admit it but I did solvents as a teenager. Access was easy because these are household items and we usually were able to steal (shoplift) them. The buzz is basically like alcohol, first it makes you dizzy then you have major blackouts. Besides the health issues, kids can get in a lot of serious trouble during these blackouts. I mean, like how in hell can a person be remorseful of something they don’t remember doing?

    Anyway, a few months into that, a new family moved-in down the block. The new kid on the block, a little older than most of our group, introduced us to pot and hash! Once we discovered pot, most of us quit the solvents. But those who didn’t are not doing very well today. I’d have to say, “if it wasn’t for pot, I’d probably be a convict in some federal pen!”. The irony is, I know pot has helped and continues to help me but I could still end up in some federal cage for making a healthy choice.

    Years later booze became a problem and yes folks, pot saved me there again. I can clearly see were booze would have led because I know a lot of people who continue to do booze and honestly they’re not doing very well either!

    So I suppose, I could go to jail for allowing my kids access to my bag of pot but not for access to the solvents in the garage or the booze in the liquor cabinet! Holy fuck bat-man, who in the hell is in charge here?

  3. Anonymous on

    By the way our filthy politicians are running the government you can almost guess they spend their time inhaling chemicals, there is no other explanation for the way they are destroying this country, criminals.
    stop stealing from the citizens of this country.
    Bernanke and Geithner get away with stealing billions and splitting it with their friends at Goldmans sachs, and other banker thiefs but they don’t get in any trouble.
    while innocent medical cannabis patients are getting murdered in their own homes for smoking in their own home.

  4. Anonymous on

    Our prime minister in Canada,Stephen Harper prefer that his kids use inhalants because they are legal but he is willing to do whatever he can to keep his kids away from marijuana because it is illegal.Funny how different places have different ways.The important thing as my friend the chemist would say is the illegality not the toxicity that counts

  5. Anonymous on

    Big hurrah for Obama politics ! That was the point: to inhale !
    I love you America !

  6. Andrew on

    If I caught any wind of my kid using inhalants, I would immediately confront him and place a bag of weed in his hands and tell him that if he is going to get high, he should use something that isn’t gonna cause addiction or death.

  7. Anonymous on

    legalize marijuana –> profits go to educating kids about drugs –> no mentally stable 12 year old will want to sniff chemicals. OR just educate kids ffs…

  8. jackaroo on

    And Cannabis is illegal to protect our children??? All of those substances being inhaled are perfectly legal, and kill. Cannabis kills nobody!