Drug Abuse Prevention: Putting a Halt to Huffing (cont.)

How often you should you talk to your children about huffing?

My response is that a strong message has to be given. It shouldn't just be one talk and you feel like you've accomplished your parental obligations. You have to give the message and be clear about it, be consistent, and reinforce it at every opportunity. Please keep in mind it is your child's life that is at risk, and I feel any parent should consider this when they talk to their child.

Ongoing conversations about health issues -- drug use, poison prevention, tobacco use, sexual health -- need to be just that: ongoing between parent and child. One talk doesn't do it, as our guest pointed out.

Where can parents get more support or join in a community effort to address this problem?

There are a number of ways to get involved. Contacting us through our 800 number, which is 1-800-269-4237, or through our web site, which is www.inhalants.org. We have free resources available, and even though this week is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, the resources we have for the week can be used any time. There are materials to conduct an awareness campaign, a how-to guide, camera-ready art to make overheads for presentation, camera-ready art to reproduce brochures, fliers and bag stuffers among other things.

Are there ways to show them pictures of huffing users as a prevention method?

One thing they can do is go to our web site where there are a number of images you can download and print. We do not provide pictures that exaggerate the danger, because you can't scare them straight, you just have to provide appropriate information.

Why are kids huffing? What attracts them to this deadly practice?

There are a number of reasons why this problem is occurring, some of which are:

  • Potentially abused products, when used as designed, are legal, useful, and serve many appropriate needs in our society. So, there is almost an inexhaustible supply of products that can be abused.
  • Products are universally available in the home, school, and convenience, grocery and auto supply stores.
  • Products are free and generally inexpensive.
  • Laws prohibiting sale of products to minors are difficult to enforce.
  • Legal consequences of abuse are minimal.
  • No complex paraphernalia are necessary to use the products.
  • Youth do not have to go to a "dealer" to obtain products, they can be bought easily.
  • Use can occur anywhere.
  • Products are easy to conceal.
  • Use is difficult to detect.
  • Targeted education and awareness programs are not available in many schools and communities.
  • Adults are generally not aware of the problem and tend to deny that "their" children may be sniffing or huffing.
  • Children are generally unaware of the consequences of their choices.

This is National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week. What are your goals for this?

The goal of National Poisons and Inhalants Awareness week, which is in its 13th year, is to alert communities and families about the dangers of inhalant abuse.

This year we have almost 1,000 communities across the country making an effort to protect children in their communities. The program is designed to meet the needs of various consumers in a community, in a school, in a region or even statewide. People must understand that the only ways to prevent unintended consequences from the misuse of common household and office products is education and awareness and being aware of what your child is doing.

Johnson is a young Tennessee lad who was 17 years old and experimented with inhalants. He got in his car and ran into a tree and was killed

We are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

First I want to thank WebMD for giving me the opportunity to speak to everybody that's reading. This gives me a forum to talk for a moment about one of the most dangerous practices I can imagine. It has to do with young people making inappropriate choices for themselves with consequences they can never imagine occurring.

A mom said to me one afternoon, "Surely Johnson is not the only one who experimented with inhalants. The others just got lucky." Johnson is a young Tennessee lad who was 17 years old and experimented with inhalants. He got in his car and ran into a tree and was killed. He's like any other young man, like your son, your daughter or the kids who go to school with your children.

I encourage everybody to get involved in prevention efforts in their community. Contact us and request our materials. Start an effort in a school, in your church, in your state. Recently an unfunded prevention initiative was established in Tennessee and already tens of thousands of people are receiving potentially lifesaving materials.

Inhalant abuse is everybody's problem and everybody needs to be part of the solution.

Thank you for your time.

Our thanks to Harvey Weiss for joining us today. And thanks to you, members, for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more information, please visit the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition online at www.inhalants.org.

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