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What you (and your child) may not know about inhalants

November 29, 2009
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Do you think there are taboo subjects that shouldn't be discussed in your newspaper? Do you think a young person reading about substance abuse in the newspaper is going to take that information and immediately begin experimenting? Or can reading the facts be a helpful tool to guide children away from risky behaviors? Today's article might be something you want to use to teach your children about the dangers of inhalant abuse.

"With 22 percent of 6th and 8th graders admitting to abusing inhalants, but only 3 percent of parents thinking their child has ever abused inhalants, it is clear that this generation of preteens and especially their parents have a lot to learn about the lethal nature of inhalant abuse," advises Stephen J. Pasireb, president and CEO, The Partnership for Drug-Free America.

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that "inhalants are often among the first drugs that young children useabused more by younger children than older ones." NIDA cites the 2008 Monitoring the Future Study stating "41 percent of 8th graders didn't realize that regular use of inhalants is harmful, and 66 percent didn't think trying inhalants once or twice was risky. It means that young teens may not understand the risks of inhalant use as well as they should."

Inhalant abuse is also known as huffing, sniffing, dusting and bagging. Inhalants include paint thinner, nail polish remover, degreaser, dry-cleaning fluid, gasoline, contact cement, correction fluid, felt-tip marker fluid, spray paint, hairspray, vegetable oil sprays, fabric protector spray, butane lighters, propane tanks, whipped cream dispensers, refrigerant gases, anesthesia-including laughing gas (nitrous oxide), and that isn't a complete list.

But, you ask, how do you talk to your children about such things without suggesting something your child might decide to try?

First, educate yourself. Google your topic and read about it so you know what you're talking about. For children ages 6 to 11 you might talk about poisons and their effects on the human body, the importance of oxygen in the body. Explain why you ventilate when you are using chemicals to clean or paint, etc., in your home or workplace. Help your children to understand that death can happen when these materials are misused. Mentioning specific substances is not advised, unless your child mentions them.

If your children are ages 12 to 18, ask what they know about inhalant abuse. Do they know anyone who uses inhalants? They need to understand how dangerous those actions are and they just aren't worth the risk. Everyone does NOT abuse inhalants. Your children need your reassurance that you love them and they are important to you. They need to understand their actions will create consequences. Serious, risky actions have serious consequences. They need to think before they act.

You know, parents see their teens grow into adults before their very eyes, well, on the outside. Sometimes it's easy to forget that there is still a child inside, a child that still needs guidance, structure and supervision to get them through the difficult teen years. Set boundaries. Ask questions. Stand firm with what you say. Know the parents of your children's friends. No child has ever died from the embarrassment they feel when Mom and Dad insist their daughter's date has to come to the door to pick her up. Or when parents say, "I need to know more about this party. Will it be supervised? Do you need me to help chaperone?" And every young person needs the reassurance that Mom and Dad are there for them: "If you don't like what's going on where you are, call me. I'll come to pick you up."

A father was overheard saying, "I don't remember my mother ever saying she loved me. Neither did my dad."

Parenting is the most important job you will ever do. Where do you want your child to learn life skills? What "rules" do you want your child to live by? Who do you want to influence their decision-making?

For more information about inhalant abuse, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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