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Adults Represent a Majority of Inhalant-Treatment Admissions; Over One-Million Adults Abuse Inhalants Each Year

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Three statements from Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Director Dr. H. Westley Clark in:
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(97 seconds total)

-- How Will You Use This Story? --

Inhalant abuse is now a multi-generational problem:  "Huffing"--or intentionally inhaling a chemical vapor in order to get "high"--has been thought to be a serious, life-threatening risk primarily among children and adolescents.  However, a new government study shows that 54 percent of treatment admissions related to inhalant abuse in 2008 involved adults ages 18 or older.

The study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows that: 52 percent of these adult admissions involved people aged 18 to 29; 32 percent involved people aged 30 to 44; and 16 percent involved people aged 45 or older.

The announcement of the findings was made by SAMHSA in collaboration with the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC).  The SAMHSA study was based on data collected from treatment facilities across the country.

Inhalants can produce mind-altering effects.  Chronic use of inhalants can cause irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys, and lungs--as well as death.

The magnitude of the inhalant problem among adults is also highlighted in the latest figures from SAMHSA's "National Survey on Drug Use and Health" (NSDUH)--which shows that an estimated 1.1 million adults over age 18 used inhalants in the past year.  By contrast, estimated adult past-year-use levels for the following other substances are lower:

  • Crack - 988,000

  • LSD - 637,000

  • Heroin - 571,000

  • PCP - 75,000

The SAMHSA "Spotlight Study" shows that: most of the admissions involving inhalants were male (72 percent); more than one-third had less than a high-school education (38 percent); and almost three-quarters were non-Hispanic white (72 percent).

The new results were announced to coincide with the 19th annual "National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week"--March 20-26, 2011.

The SAMHSA "Spotlight Study"--"Adults Represent Majority of Inhalant Treatment Admissions"--is based on data from SAMHSA's "Treatment Episode Data Set"--a reporting system involving treatment facilities from across the country.  The study was developed as part of the agency's strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality--an effort to inform policymakers and service-providers on the nature and scope of behavioral-health issues.

The study is available at:

Copyright 2011 North American Network, Inc.

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