WASHINGTON—Adults make up 54% of people treated for the abuse of inhalants, a problem previously thought to be an epidemic among adolescents, according to a study released Thursday.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report found that 3,273 adults were treated for abuse of inhalants, also known as "huffing," between 2004 and 2008.
The study follows findings released last year that showed more than one million adults abuse inhalants every year, outstripping the rates of adult use of crack cocaine, LSD, heroin and PCP.
Most adult abusers of inhalants have just entered adulthood. Of adult abusers, 52% are aged 18 to 29, 32% are 30 to 44 and 16% are 45 or older. Seventy-two percent of users are male.
"While inhalants are still usually the first substance of abuse our children experiment with and more 12 or 13 year olds use inhalants than marijuana, more than a million adults huffed last year," said Harvey Weiss, director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition.
Erin Davis, 42, is a former abuser of computer duster, or canned air, who spoke at a news briefing about the study. Ms. Davis said she began sniffing inhalants at age 38. "The people I used with were all over the age of 34," she said. The chemicals would cause her to blackout and have seizures.
Inhalant users experience a high by inhaling the chemical vapor from household products like canned air, spray paint, whipped cream or even markers. More than 1,000 common products can be used as inhalants, according to the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition. The vapors can cause death or irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys or lungs.
By STEPHANIE GLEASON
MARCH 17, 2011, 5:51 P.M. ET
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