U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Age of Inhalant First Time Use and Its Association to the Use of Other Drugs

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Education Volume: 39 Issue: 3 Dated: 2009 Pages: 261-272
Kele Ding; G. Andy Chang; Ron Southerland
Date Published
12 pages
Using a representative sample of 12- to 65-year-olds in the U.S. population, this study examined the trajectories of drug use among multiple drug users who had ever used inhalants.
This study used the existing dataset collected by the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to obtain information about age of first time inhalant use and first time use of other drugs, and found that of the 55,230 cases, 12.9 percent (n=6,833) used inhalants at least once in their lifetime. The results also showed that among lifetime inhalant users, the age of inhalant onset was 15.6 years, regardless of the number of drugs co-used. This age was older than that of first time use of tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana but less than that for use of other illicit drugs. For inhalant users who used multiple drugs, only 4.2 percent of inhalant users used inhalants prior to the use of both classic gateway drugs and other illicit drugs. In addition, 38.1 percent of the users started using inhalants after having used classic gateway drugs, indicating that inhalants are not gateway drugs. This finding does not support the theory that inhalants are gateway drugs, similar to alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Using descriptive statistical analyses and a multiple regression test, this study analyzed the existing dataset collected by the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to compare the age of inhalant first time use and its association to the use of other drugs. Recommendations for future research are discussed and include developing a better criterion for classifying drugs as gateway drugs, and comparing the effectiveness between drug prevention programs whose targets, strategies, and messages include gateway drug concepts and those which do not. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 24 references


No download available