Prevention is the Key

Prevention of inhalant abuse is the goal. This involves the entire community, including healthcare professionals, teachers, parents, peers, law enforcement and retailers. This section provides information for nurses to assist in the education of others.

Teaching children about inhalants:
According to Wu, Pilowsky, & Schlenger (2004) early use is associated with progression to abuse and dependence, prevention programs should target elementary school-age children. Children need to be made aware of “Good Smells” (Ex. cookies baking). and “Bad smells” (Ex. Gas). Children who have used inhalants have said, “I had no idea that breathing in these products could hurt me”. Byykowski (1999) quotes Dr. Milton Tenenbein, who wrote the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Substance Abuse policy statement on Inhalant abuse Dr. Tenenbein recommends starting anticipatory guidance early; 6-year-old children are not too young to be taught the dangers of inhalants. Dr. Tenenbein, is professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg.

*Dr. Tenenbein wrote the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Substance Abuse policy statement on Inhalant abuse and is Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg


The NIDA website, Mind over Matter, has additional information on the effect of inhalants on the body. It is oriented for patient education, particularly for youngsters.


Talking to parents about inhalants:
Parents frequently deny that inhalants could be a problem in their families, schools or communities. According to Cook (1999) rural communities may deny the existence or extent of addiction, so that awareness of inhalant use may be minimal. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2005) some states have laws to try and deal with inhalant abuse, such laws are not always easy to enforce. Since inhalants are legal and kids can get them from so many different ways, it is not possible to make inhalants entirely off-limits. The Academy recommends the best way to fight inhalant abuse is to educate children about how harmful these products are. They advocate explaining how they can cause short- and long-term health problems, further drug abuse, and death. They recommend talking with children at a young age, because inhalant abuse often starts as young as 8 or 9 years old. Parents and teachers should also be able to recognize the warning signs of inhalant abuse.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2005) provides parents the following guidelines to help them prevent their child from turning to inhalants and other drugs:


The American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) provides parents with the following guidelines to help them prevent their child from turning to inhalants and other drugs.

Please visit the site, and be prepared to answer a question about steps to prevent your child from using drugs.


Guidelines for educators:

Youth frequently use on school property or in the classroom. Examples include youth who paint their fingernails with typewriter correction fluid then sniff their fingers all day, soak their sleeves in solvent and sniff away, or place solvent in an empty soda can. Peers and educators are not aware that inhaling is occurring next to them.

Healthcare professionals particularly School and Pediatric nurses are frequently asked by educators for direction in helping youth learn about inhalants. This section is directly from The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition web site: With the help of informed educators and a quality program, educators can take this dangerous opponent to bat, and make significant changes in the rising rate of inhalant use. Isabel Burk, a drug prevention consultant, has developed guidelines for school professionals who talk to students about inhalants. In addition to ascertaining students' knowledge at each level and building on existing skills and information, she suggests the following strategies:

Be ready to answer a question about the Do's and Don'ts to school-based prevention programs.

The following web site provides activities, which will help explain to students how inhalants change their brain and the body. http://www.drugabuse.gov/MOM/TG/momtg-inhalants.html

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