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"...You Would Probably Want To Do It. Cause That's What Made Them Popular": Exploring Perceptions of Inhalant Utility Among Young Adolescent Nonusers and Occasional Users

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Volume: 44 Issue: 5 Dated: 2009 Pages: 597-615
Jason T. Siegel; Eusebio M. Alvaro; Neil Patel; William D. Crano
Date Published
19 pages
With a view toward the development of future primary prevention activities, this study examined young adolescents' views of the motivations/functions of inhalant use, based on the findings of 9 focus groups conducted in Tucson, AZ in 2004 (n=47, mean age of 13.2 years).
Three main themes emerged from the focus groups regarding youths' perceived motivations/functions of inhalant use: as a means of mental escape, the facilitation of social relationships, and as a means of coping with poor parental relations. Every focus group agreed that the use of inhalants stemmed from a desire to escape from mental distress, regardless of whether the distress was caused by peer troubles, loneliness, problems at home, or problems at school. Eight of the nine focus groups gave significant weight to inhalant use as a social tool for reducing peer pressure and gaining acceptance with a peer group in which inhalants are used. One third of the focus groups mentioned inhalant use as a means of coping with the lack of parental attention. This study is the first step toward understanding the outcomes young adolescents associate with inhalant use. Future research should continue efforts to identify motivation/functions for inhalant use, with attention to whether findings can be generalized for the design of prevention efforts. Of the nine focus groups, three consisted of only nonusers; three consisted of one user, and the remaining three were composed of two users. Discussion topics pertained to participants' views of why some people use inhalants and a person's thoughts just before he/she uses inhalants. For the purpose of focus group discussions, inhalants were defined as “ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed to get high.” 2 tables, a glossary, and 68 references