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Don Carson, Maine Task Force member and licensed alcohol/drug counselor, explains the dangers of inhalants.

Vilma Rodriguez, former Poison Control Educator in Rhode Island, urges parents to be aware of their children's actions.

Don Carson explains the risk of interrupting people while huffing.

Introduction | Principles | Innovation | History | What is Inhalant Abuse?

Background: What is Inhalant Abuse?

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Leaders throughout New England tell how they became aware of the inhalant problem.

Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhalation of intoxicating fumes, gases or vapors to produce a mood-altering effect.

Inhalants are unique among abused substances – they have almost universal availability, they are legal products when used for their intended purposes, and many adults are unaware of their danger. More than 1,400 everyday products (including computer air duster, gasoline, butane lighters and refills, paint thinner, solvent-based glues, solvent-based markers, correction fluid, and anything in an aerosol can) have the potential to be abused with addictive and deadly consequences.

"My impressions were that this was a very hidden problem, that people were concerned about alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, but inhalants? Many people said, “What is that?” And we would have to talk about the thousands of household products that kids could be intentionally inhaling and even cause death.”

Kathleen Herr-Zaya, Co-Chair, Massachusetts Inhalant Abuse Task Force and Media Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

  • Dangers of inhalants include poisoning, accidents, sudden death, fires, and permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs.
  • There are roughly as many inhalant addicts as heroin addicts in the USA (source: National Household Survey, 2002).
  • There is no level of safe use for inhalants. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome can occur during any use. 39% of inhalant deaths are from first time use (source: UK Study of Data from Coroner’s Inquests, 1971-2002)



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