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Jennifer Mieth discusses how the Massachusetts Fire Marshal's office needed to educate itself first.

Linda Williams, former Prevention Manager from Maine, tells a story of how teachers became interested in inhalant prevention. 

Melissa Heinen, New Hampshire Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center, describes how the schools react to the issue of inhalant abuse.

Judith Fellows, Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant from Vermont, tells how inhalant prevention can open up dialogue between parents and children.

Key Activities | Challenges | What We Learned

Spreading the Message: What we Learned

Maine Inhalant Task Force subcommittee
at planning retreat

Our experience has been rich with lessons learned. We pass these along to anyone interested in replicating our approach.

Partnerships work
Who delivers the message – and how they do it – is key. Since we want the message to children to emphasize that inhalants are poisons, toxins and fire hazards (and not suggest that they are drugs that give a high), then it is most appropriate that poison center educators or fire safety educators take the lead in addressing the youngest audiences, rather than substance abuse personnel.

With task forces drawing heavily from the substance abuse prevention infrastructure in each state, it became crucial for them to partner with poison and fire professionals. We found that substance abuse people often took the lead in coordinating messages to parents, other professionals, and the media, while the elementary and middle schools became the target of fire and poison educators and school nurses.

Institutionalize inhalant abuse prevention
We've learned how necessary it is to take the time to explain about inhalants to professionals so that they can eventually recognize and address the problem in their midst. Don't underestimate the importance of teaching professionals about inhalants, and building the trainings into professional training days, ongoing conferences, and credentialing processes. Librarians can be trained to use guidelines for screening inhalant materials. School purchase agents may be trained about purchasing safer products. Licensing for facilities should follow inhalant-free environment licensing guidelines.

Prime the pump
Because inhalant abuse is not widely understood even by substance abuse prevention professionals, we found that we often needed to "prime the pump," that is, use brief trainings to build motivation to learn more about inhalant prevention practices.

Reach parents
Inhalant prevention may be the ideal vehicle to help parents start talking about risks with their very young children. When parents talk about inhalants as poisons or dangerous things and that dialogue starts early in the child’s life, then you’re setting a pattern for talking with them about risky behavior when they are teens. Inhalant prevention offers us the opportunity to have a dialogue with parents and help them begin the dialogue with their children.




The New England Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition | Home | Contact