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'Huffing' more popular among pre-teens than pot

Dr. Jennifer N. Caudle, an osteopathic family physician and director of the family medicine section of the Department of Internal Medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, said it's critical to make parents and adolescents aware about the dangers of huffing.

More 12-year-olds in the United States are using potentially lethal inhalants to get high than marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens combined, a new government report finds.

Based on statistics from 2006-2008 national surveys, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that “huffing” common household products such as shoe polish, glue and air fresheners to get high was a common practice among the 12-year-old children.

”Huffing” is fatal
Inhalant abuse, commonly called huffing, is the purposeful inhalation of chemical vapors to achieve an altered mental or physical state, which for most abusers is a euphoric effect.

Abusers huff or sniff vapors emitted from a wide range of potentially deadly inhalants, including aerosol computer cleaners, glue, hair sprays, paint solvents and gasoline. The frightening thing about “huffing” is that it can cause addiction or sudden death from cardiac arrest.

The results are according to data released on Thursday by SAMHSA in conjunction with the 18th annual National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week.

A deadly middle-school concern
The data shows that this generation of young children is using a wide variety of products to get high. Theses potentially deadly inhalants are legal, cheap and everywhere. They are easily be found in most homes: spray paint, shoe polish, glue, air fresheners, hair spray, nail polish, gasoline, aerosols, computer cleaners, even the refrigerant from air conditioners, according to CBS News.

The Government report shows that this generation of young children is using a wide variety of products to get high. Theses potentially deadly inhalants are legal, cheap and everywhere

The new government report finds that 6.9 percent of 12-year-olds used potentially fatal inhalants in 2008, compared with 5.1 percent who’ve used illegal prescription drugs, 1.4 percent marijuana-users, 0.7 percent who have used hallucinogens and 0.1 percent cocaine-users.

"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, CBS News reports.

"The data are ominous and their implications are frightening because of the toxic, chemical effects of these legal products on growing minds and bodies," he said.

People unaware of huffing dangers
The health officials believe most parents are not aware that the use of inhalants can cause “sudden sniffing death,” which is immediate death due to cardiac arrest. The practice can lead to brain, heart, liver and kidney damage and can be addictive.

"It's frustrating because the danger comes from a variety of very common household products that are legal, they're easy to get, they're laying around the home and it's easy for kids to buy them," Pamela Hyde, of the SAMHSA said in a news conference held this week to discuss the data.

"Kids and parents don't think of these things as dangerous because they were never meant to be used to be intoxicating," Hyde said.

Dr. Jennifer N. Caudle, an osteopathic family physician and director of the family medicine section of the Department of Internal Medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, said it's critical to make parents and adolescents aware about the dangers of huffing.

"Young people do not always realize the consequences of their actions. However, it is possible to die from trying inhalants even once. 'Sudden sniffing death' causes the heart to beat rapidly, which can result in cardiac arrest."