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Inhalant Use Across the Adolescent Years

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2008
4 pages
Based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for the years 2002 to 2006, this paper reports on adolescents' (ages 12-17) use of inhalants, defined as "liquids, sprays, and gases that people sniff or inhale to get high or to make them feel good."
The survey found that inhalants were the most frequently reported class of illicit drugs used in the past year among youth 12 or 13 years old. Combined data for 2002 to 2006 indicated that an annual average of 593,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 had used inhalants for the first time in the year before their survey interview. Among past-year inhalant initiates ages 12 to 15, the three most commonly used types of inhalants were glue, shoe polish, or toluene; spray paints; and gasoline or lighter fluid. For past-year inhalant initiates ages 16 or 17, the most common type of inhalant used was nitrous oxide or whippets. The categories of inhalants covered in the NSDUH are amyl nitrite, "poppers," locker room odorizers, or "rush; correction fluid, degreaser, or cleaning fluid; gasoline or lighter fluid; glue, shoe polish, or toluene; halothane, ether, or other anesthetics; lacquer thinner or other paint solvents; lighter gases; nitrous oxide or whippets; spray paints; and other aerosol sprays. 2 tables and 1 figure