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Surge of teen vaping levels off

Findings released today from the most recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of substance use behaviors and related attitudes among teens in the United States indicate that levels of nicotine and marijuana vaping did not increase from 2019 to early 2020, although they remain high. The annual MTF survey is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

In the four years since the survey began including questions on nicotine and marijuana vaping, use of these substances among teens have increased to markedly high levels. From 2017 to 2019, the percentage of teenagers who said they vaped nicotine in the past 12 months roughly doubled for eighth graders from 7.5% to 16.5%, for 10th graders from 15.8% to 30.7%, and for 12th graders from 18.8% to 35.3%. In 2020, the rates held steady at a respective 16.6%, 30.7%, and 34.5%.

“The rapid rise of teen nicotine vaping in recent years has been unprecedented and deeply concerning since we know that nicotine is highly addictive and can be delivered at high doses by vaping devices, which may also contain other toxic chemicals that may be harmful when inhaled,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “It is encouraging to see a leveling off of this trend though the rates still remain very high.”

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What are inhalants?

Red lighter fluid canAlso known as: Bold (nitrites), Laughing gas (nitrous oxide), Poppers (amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite), Rush (nitrites), Snappers (amyl nitrite), Whippets (fluorinated hydrocarbons)

Inhalants are chemicals found in ordinary household or workplace products that people inhale on purpose to get “high.” People often don’t realize that inhaling the fumes of these products, even just once, can be very harmful to the brain and body and can lead to death. In fact, the chemicals found in these products can change the way the brain works and cause other problems in the body.

Although different inhalants cause different effects, they generally fall into one of four categories.

Volatile solvents are liquids that become a gas at room temperature. They are found in:

  • paint thinner, nail polish remover, degreaser, dry-cleaning fluid, gasoline, and contact cement
  • some art or office supplies, such as correction fluid, felt-tip marker fluid, glue, and electronic contact cleaner

Aerosols are substances under pressure that are released as a fine spray. They include:

  • spray paint, hair spray, deodorant spray, vegetable oil sprays, and fabric protector spray

Gases may be in household or commercial products, or used in the medical field to provide pain relief. They are found in:

  • butane lighters, propane tanks, whipped cream dispensers, and refrigerant gases
  • anesthesia, including ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide (commonly called “laughing gas”).

Nitrites are often sold in small brown bottles labeled as:

  • organic nitrites, such as amyl, butyl, and cyclohexyl nitrites and other related compounds
  • amyl nitrite, used in the past by doctors to help with chest pain and sometimes used today to diagnose heart problems
  • nitrites, now banned (prohibited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission) but can still be found, sold in small bottles labeled as “video head cleaner,” “room odorizer,” “leather cleaner,” or “liquid aroma.”

How Inhalants Are Used

People who use inhalants breathe in the fumes through their nose or mouth, usually by “sniffing,” “snorting,” “bagging,” or “huffing.” It’s called different names depending on the substance and equipment used.

 

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