When it comes to children, but especially teenagers, many parents worry about things such as alcohol and drugs. There is the worry that you cannot be with your kids twenty-four hours a day, and many mums and dads fret about what their children are doing when they are not with them. It is true that experimentation with mood-altering substances tends to begin when children get to high school, but it is not always alcohol and illegal drugs that parents should be concerned with. Sadly, inhalant addiction is a problem for many people, and worryingly for parents, substances that are generally inhaled, tend to be freely available in the home and businesses.
It is hard to believe, but there are more than a thousand different items that can be used as an inhalant; many are found in the home or business. These products include correction fluid, permanent markers, white board cleaner, hair spray, nail varnish remover, deodorants, paint thinner, paint remover, air freshener, lighter fluid, furniture polish, glue, shoe polish spray, and much more.
The tragedy of inhalant addiction is that many of those affected are young and believe that what they are doing is harmless. They begin by using many of the products mentioned above to get high. These products are easy to get hold of and are cheap. This makes them attractive to young people who want to experiment without turning to alcohol or drugs.
Deadly Consequences of Inhalant Abuse
The family of Andrew Bailey Spencer are acutely aware of the dangers of abusing inhalants. Andrew was born in Delaware and joined the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1992. He served there until 2004, and during that time, he climbed the ranks until he was made a sergeant. He did two tours of Bosnia, but this resulted in him being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Although it cannot be confirmed that PTSD caused Andrew to begin abusing inhalants, there is speculation that it was a contributing factor. In January 2014, Andrew was found collapsed at his home, with a can of cleaner in his hand. He had been inhaling compressed gas, which led to fatal consequences. Sadly, inhalant addiction is not uncommon, both in the US and here in the UK.
Andrew’s family have set up a memorial fund in his name and are hoping that by doing so, they can prevent another family from suffering in the same way they have. As well as presentations to the local community in Blacksburg, where Andrew lived, the committee overseeing the fund has created a brochure highlighting the dangers of inhalant abuse.
Why Inhalants Are Attractive
Getting high is something that many teenagers are keen to try, but some are scared of trying alcohol or drugs. They are often of the opinion that inhaling substances such as air fresheners and deodorants are harmless.
Another reason young people find inhalants attractive is that these are easily accessible and cheap. They are not legal to possess and can generally be found in the home. Most teenagers see them as less harmful than substances such as illegal drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, just like alcohol and drugs, inhalants can be addictive. Those who regularly abuse these substances can become psychologically dependent on them. The more they use them, the more they feel they need them.
While not everyone who abuses inhalants will become addicted, there are some risk factors for addiction that make some people more likely to be affected. These include past traumatic experiences, family history of addiction, or mental health issues.
There are a number of reasons young people begin experimenting with inhalants, but in most instances, it is peer pressure. Experimenting with mood-altering substances is common in the teenage years, but the majority of those who do dabble, admit to doing so only because a friend was doing it too. Nevertheless, others take drugs, drink alcohol or inhale substances to help block out the pain they are experiencing from a past experience or a social anxiety disorder.
Help for Inhalant Addiction
Just like all addictions, an inhalant addiction is something that requires professional treatment. Quitting is just the first step in the process of recovery. It is necessary for those with an inhalant addiction to learn what caused their addictive behaviour in the first place.
This is usually the remit of a professionally trained counsellor or therapist who specialises in addictive behaviour. Those affected will be given a series of treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, individual counselling, and group therapy sessions.
Here at Addiction Helper, we understand the seriousness of inhalant addiction and know that this is a dangerous illness that requires immediate help. If you or someone you love has been affected by inhalant addiction, contact us today for advice and help on how to access the treatments you need.