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Fewer teens use inhalants

By Erica Werner
Associated Press / March 17, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Fewer teens are sniffing glue, lighter fluid, spray paint, shoe polish, and other easy-to-find substances, a government study said yesterday.

But the study said the number of adolescents who abuse inhalants - as opposed to just trying them - remained stable between 2002 and 2007, suggesting the need for continued prevention and treatment efforts.

"Most parents don't realize how dangerous inhalants can be," said Ed Jurith, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "These products, found in every home in America, are among the most popular and deadly substances that kids abuse."

Almost 1 million youths aged 12 to 17 used some kind of inhalant in 2007, according to the study by the Department of Health and Human Services.

That represents 3.9 percent of adolescents, compared with about 1.1 million - or 4.4 percent - in 2006.

The rate of "initiation," or teens trying inhalants for the first time, was also slightly lower in 2007 - 2.1 percent of teens, down from 2.4 percent in 2006.

Specialists have attributed the drop to ongoing efforts to educate teens about the dangers of inhalant use and to encourage parents to discuss the issue with their children. But the rate of dependence and abuse was relatively stable from 2002 to 2007, with 0.4 percent of teens, or about 99,000 people, meeting the criteria for dependence or abuse.

Also, the study said inhalants remain the third-most popular choice for teens trying drugs for the first time. In 2007, marijuana was the choice of 56.3 percent of first-time drug users; prescription drugs used recreationally were second at 23.5 percent; and inhalants were tried by 17.2 percent of first-time users.

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