Thursday, March 25, 1999

Ads seek to keep
kids off inhalants

By Helen Altonn


A drug that parents don't think about -- "stuff you've got around the house" -- poses one of the biggest substance-abuse dangers to America's children.

"That's why a National Inhalant Awareness Campaign is going on this month," said Elaine Wilson, state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division chief.

Fewer Hawaii kids try sniffing inhalants than those on the mainland, possibly because of high peer disapproval and understanding that they're harmful, she said.

But "the bad news is so many kids are trying" inhalants.

Wilson said an ad addressing the problem in today's newspaper is intended to catch parents' attention with the headline: "How to Write an Obituary for Your Teenager."

She said inhalants are the most popular illegal drugs tried by Hawaii youths after alcohol and marijuana, according to a 1998 survey. Reporting that they tried inhalants at least once were 10 percent of sixth-graders, 13 percent of eighth-graders, 10 percent of 10th-graders and 8 percent of 12th-graders, Wilson said.

"The ever-tried inhalants have pretty much stabilized (since a 1996 survey)," she said, "and we are 50 percent lower than the nation in that statistic."

Less than half of all groups thought using inhalants once or twice would be harmful.

Wilson said that's what the national ad is about: "You can die of this," even the first time.

Inhalants include solvents, such as paint thinners, gasoline and glues; aerosols, such as hair, deodorant and paint sprays; anesthetics, such as nitrous oxide in aerosol whipped cream cans; and nitrates, such as those used to prevent heart failure .

Wilson believes a key factor in the decreasing use of illegal drugs among young people is peer disapproval. More than 75 percent of all groups said their friends would disapprove or strongly disapprove if they used inhalants.

Advice for parents

Bullet What to watch for: Red, glassy, watery eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, seizures and comas, sores and blisters around the nose, cleaning rags in rooms, closets, basements or attics and dried paint or spray on clothes or the child's body.
Bullet Being prepared: Parents are urged to read the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ad, call 1-800-788-2800, or seek information through the Web site,
Bullet To get help: Talk to your child or school counselor or call one of these treatment programs:
Bullet Oahu: Kalihi YMCA, 848-2494; Hina Mauka, 236-2600; Bobby Benson Center, 293-7555.
Bullet Maui: Maui Youth and Family Services, 579-8414.
Bullet Big Island: Substance Abuse Council, 935-4927.
Bullet Kauai: Hina Mauka on Oahu is doing school-based treatment. 236-2600.

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