Dear Editor:

As the headlines concentrate on prescription drug abuse, let’s not forget that inhalant use is a cheap, legal and easy way that young people get high.  Just last week, a 14 year old in Oregon died from inhaling helium. 

Inhalant use has become a silent epidemic.  Why? Parents are out of the loop.  Children discuss it and practice it; adults stay in the dark. 

A recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that 95% of parents believe their child has never used inhalants.  Yet, almost one in five eighth graders has intentionally inhaled everyday office, school and household products at the risk of brain damage and even death, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse “Monitoring the Future Survey”.  Inhalant abuse, most common in the 10-12 year age bracket, is also considered a “gateway drug” - a student’s first form of substance abuse before “graduating “to other drugs.

While there has been a decrease in inhalant abuse as a result of targeted prevention efforts, recent abuse and attitude surveys done by the Partnership for a Drug Free America indicate that the current perceptions of youth have shifted, reflecting a very dangerous resurgence. 

The week of March 18th is the 20th annual National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week.  Please contact Prevention First and ask for a free copy of “A Parents Guide to Preventing Inhalant Abuse”.   We must educate our children about inhalants before they educate themselves.  We can protect our children by working together.  For more information call or visit our Resource Center at 732-663-1800 ext. 245 or visit our website at 


Mary Pat Angelini, Executive Director & CEO
Prevention First

Ocean, NJ  07712