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Inhalant Abuse: 10 is the new 13!

Group of teenagers taking a selfie

Each day over 17,000 young adults use inhalants for the sole purpose of getting high[1]. Studies have shown that 10 is the average age children use inhalants for the first time[2]. Over 1,400 household products can be abused; these products are inexpensive, legal, and readily available in the home, office, school, or local grocery store. Today, when we talk to parents about inhalant abuse, we primarily hear “I didn’t realize people still did that” or “Wasn’t that big in the 90’s?”-inhalant abuse still exists and tends to be the first “high” children experience before moving onto other drugs like marijuana or tobacco.

Teens say that they rely on the adults in their lives to help guide when making difficult decisions and to provide good advice[3]. Talking to your child early about inhalant abuse is one way to prevent them for abusing these products and harming their bodies.

Tips for Talking to Your Tween (10-14 years old)

  • Ask your tween if he/she knows about inhalant abuse. Has he/she seen or heard other kids abusing these products.
  • Reinforce resistance to peer pressure and provide your tween with ways to say no-“That’s not for me” or “No thanks, that stuff can be really dangerous.”
  • Set your expectations and be clear. Let your tween know where you stand on inhalant abuse and how you would feel if you found out they were doing it. Emphasize that unsafe actions and risky behavior have serious consequences.
  • Have more than one conversation about inhalant abuse and the harmful consequences. Talk about it often, inhalant abuse conversations shouldn’t be one and done. Long conversations are not needed; 60 second chats regularly will reiterate the risks and expectations to your tween.
  • Talk to your tween about the consequences of inhalant abuse (damage to brain, liver, lungs, and kidneys; loss of memory and smell; death-even the first time).
  • Change the conversation as your child gets older. Reinforcing the dangers of intentionally misusing these products is important when your child is younger, but as they move into middle school and their early teen years, it is important that the conversation shifts as well to cover your expectations and the deadly consequences.
  • Encourage your tween to ask questions!

    [1] http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k14/CBHSQ168/sr168-young-adults-2014.pdf [2] http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-vol1_2015.pdf [3] https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/underage-drinking-family-guide.pdf

 

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