MARCH 13, 2006





AUGUSTA, ME – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Substance Abuse (OSA), along with the Maine Inhalant Prevention Task Force, as part of National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, March 19-25, would like to remind parents to talk to their children about the dangers of inhalants - the poisonous solvents and gases you’ll find under most kitchen sinks, in garages, and perhaps even on your office desk. Wherever they’re found, they produce vapors that more and more kids are using to get high, become stimulated, or lose consciousness.

“Many adults in our communities have a basic understanding of what alcohol abuse looks like, or what to look for with marijuana use, but they have no idea what inhalant abuse ‘looks’ like,” said Dalene Dutton, community coordinator for Five Town Communities That Care. “The signs may be right in front of them, and the inhalants readily available, but they just don’t see it. I hope that through education we can raise awareness and begin to really address this serious issue in our communities.”

The issue of inhalants needs to be on parents’ radar, as even one time use can cause brain damage and can lead to death even at the trial stage. While young people may have difficulty getting illegal drugs or alcohol, there are more than 1,400 common items that can be inhaled or “huffed”, including many that can be easily accessed at home, work or school. The products being used as inhalants are safely used by millions of people every day – but can be deadly when misused as drugs.

“Inhalant abuse continues to be a serious and insidious problem among our youth,” said Don Carson, LADC, outpatient substance abuse counselor, “After several years of declining use in Aroostook County, we have seen an increase recently among our 8 th graders. We need to be eternally vigilant and keep inhalant abuse ‘on the radar’ for parents, teachers, and other professionals servicing youth.”

According to the results of the 2004 Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey (MYDAUS) administered by OSA, Maine students grades six through twelve ranked inhalants fourth in the most frequently used drugs in Maine.

“Research has shown us that not only are inhalants toxic, but there is clear evidence that early use of inhalants may set the very young up for major problems in later life,” said Kim Johnson, Director of OSA., “Parents who suspect their children are using inhalants should be alert for changes in their attitudes and interests.”

Other changes to watch for are: a decline in school performance, a disoriented/dazed appearance, slurred speech, and chemical odors on a child’s clothes, breath or backpack. In addition, adults should look for red spots or sores around the nose and/or mouth, complaints of headaches, empty lighters, spray cans, or household containers or rags or plastic bags with chemical odors.

OSA, in partnership with the New England Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition, formed the Maine Inhalant Prevention Task Force in order to identify the nature of the inhalant problem in Maine and recommend model prevention practices designed to reduce inhalant abuse.

For parents and caregivers, tips and the latest information abut inhalants can be found at OSA’s Information and Resource Center, 1-800-499-0027, or on-line at An additional on-line information source is the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition at