|March 17, 2005|
Early onset of substance use has been linked to substance use disorders, delinquent behaviors, and other problems later in life.1,2,3 Data from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that a higher percentage of youths aged 12 or 13 had used inhalants than marijuana in the past year.4
NSDUH asks respondents to report their lifetime, past year, and past month use of inhalants, as well as their age at first use of inhalants. NSDUH defines inhalants as "liquids, sprays, and gases that people sniff or inhale to get high or to make them feel good," and categorizes them as shown in Figure 1.
Additional questions ask about the use of other illicit drugs,5 dependence on or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, arrests for breaking the law,6 and past and current school enrollment status, which allows for the classification of individuals as school dropouts and non-dropouts.7 NSDUH defines substance dependence or abuse using criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).8
NSDUH also asks youths aged 12 to 17 to report how often they engaged in various delinquent behaviors, as shown in Figure 2, during the past year.9
This report presents the prevalence of inhalant use among young adolescents aged 12 or 13, the association between inhalant use and delinquent behaviors within this age group, and the association between early onset of inhalant use and problems later in life. To improve reliability, all estimates are annual averages based on combined data from the 2002 and 2003 NSDUH.
In 2002 and 2003, an annual average of 718,000 (8.6 percent) youths aged 12 or 13 reported using inhalants in their lifetime. The inhalants used most often by this age group were glue, shoe polish, or toluene (4.3 percent), followed by gasoline or lighter fluid (3.3 percent) and spray paints (2.9 percent) (Figure 1). Youths aged 12 or 13 had a higher lifetime prevalence of inhalant use (8.6 percent) than any other illicit drug, including nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics (6.5 percent), marijuana (3.8 percent), and hallucinogens (1.3 percent).
In 2002 and 2003, males had a higher prevalence of lifetime inhalant use than females (9.1 vs. 8.0 percent). There were no significant differences among racial/ethnic groups in lifetime inhalant use.
|Figure 1. Percentages of Youths Aged 12 or 13 Reporting Lifetime Use of Inhalants, by Inhalant Type: 2002 and 2003|
Youths aged 12 or 13 who used inhalants were more likely to have participated in delinquent behaviors in the past year than youths aged 12 or 13 who had never used inhalants (Figure 2). For example, youths aged 12 or 13 who reported lifetime inhalant use were more than twice as likely to have been in a serious fight at school or work than youths who had never used inhalants, and they were six times as likely to have stolen or tried to steal anything worth more than $50. In addition, 35.4 percent of youths aged 12 or 13 who had used inhalants in their lifetime had used another illicit drug, compared with 7.5 percent of youths in this age group who had never used inhalants.
Among persons aged 18 to 49 in 2002 and 2003, 1.9 percent first used inhalants at age 13 or younger, 11.8 percent first used inhalants at age 14 or older, and 86.3 percent had never used inhalants in their lifetime.10,11 Persons who had initiated inhalant use at age 13 or younger were more likely to report certain problems than persons who had initiated inhalant use at age 14 or older or persons who had never used inhalants (Figure 3). For instance, 35.2 percent of persons aged 18 to 49 who initiated inhalant use at age 13 or younger were classified with dependence on or abuse of alcohol or an illicit drug in the past year, compared with 30.2 percent of persons who initiated inhalant use at age 14 or older and 10.1 percent of persons who had never used inhalants.
|Figure 2. Percentages of Youths Aged 12 or 13 Who Participated in Delinquent Behaviors One or More Times in the Past Year, by Lifetime Inhalant Use: 2002 and 2003||Figure 3. Percentages of Adults Aged 18 to 49 Reporting Past Year Substance Dependence or Abuse, School Dropout, and Lifetime Arrests, by Age at First Use of Inhalants: 2002 and 2003|
Source: SAMHSA, 2002 and 2003 NSDUH.
|The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to 2002, this survey was called the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The combined 2002 and 2003 data are based on information obtained from 135,910 persons aged 12 or older, including 16,737 persons aged 12 or 13, and 78,199 persons aged 18 to 49. The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence.
The NSDUH Report is prepared by the Office of Applied Studies (OAS), SAMHSA, and by RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. (RTI International is a trade name of Research Triangle Institute.)
Also available online: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov.
Because of improvements and modifications to the 2002 NSDUH, estimates from the 2002 and 2003 surveys should not be compared with estimates from the 2001 or earlier versions of the survey to examine changes over time.
The NSDUH Report (formerly The NHSDA Report) is published periodically by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Additional copies of this report or other reports from the Office of Applied Studies are available on-line: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov. Citation of the source is appreciated. For questions about this report please e-mail: email@example.com.
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