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STUDY: Recent declines in inhalant use among adolescents

March 20, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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According to a recent survey, inhalant use among adolescents is decreasing. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), surveys adolescents ages 12 to 17.

The most recent NSDUH report examines data trends of inhalant use among youth between 2002 and 2012, but specifically focusing on the changes between 2011 and 2012.

One question asked respondents about the use of inhalants in the past year. Generally, this number has been declining since 2006. From 2011 to 2012, the number of those who used inhalants in the past year decreased from 3.3 percent to 2.6 percent.

Some changes in use among demographics were also discussed in the report, including:

  • Among males ages 12 to 17, the rate of use decreased from 3.1 percent in 2011 to 2.1 percent in 2012.
  • Rates of inhalant use among Asians were 1.3 percent, while rates were 4.8 percent among American Indians or Alaska natives.
  • Among white adolescents, the rates dropped from 3.0 percent in 2011 to 2.5 percent in 2012.
  • The midteen years appeared to be the peak of use, as rate of use among 14-year-olds was 3.4 percent, nearly double the rate of use for 12-year-olds, at 1.8 percent.

One number that remained steady throughout 2011 and 2012 was the amount of days inhalants were used in the past year among those who did inhalants.

While it is good news that the inhalant use is decreasing among this population, there are still approximately 40,000 adolescents using inhalants per day. Reasons for this high number, according to the report, are because they are highly accessible, low-cost, and easy to hide.