Toluene and Inhalant Abuse in the Young

Older teenagers and adults aren’t the only people who struggle with substance use disorder. Young teenagers and preteenagers (preteens) also abuse substances.

Monitoring the Future (MTF) is an annual survey that includes information about drug, alcohol, and tobacco use among young people in the United States. The survey also compares current findings to previous surveys.

This study collects information from 50,000 eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders. In the United States, eighth graders are often anywhere from twelve to fifteen years old, and the surveys have noted that a lot of students in that grade have used drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

How many? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that “[a]ccording to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there were 793,000 persons aged 12 or older who had used inhalants for the first time within the past 12 months; 68.4 percent were under the age of 18. “

Many young substance use disorderrs use substances that are known as inhalants. An inhalant can be gasoline, spray paint, whipped cream, glue, paint thinner, different kinds of cleaners, or other products. Users ingest inhalants by inhaling or sniffing them.

Young people who abuse inhalants might think that such substances are safer because they can often purchase them in stores or easily find in their homes. But inhalants can be just as dangerous as drugs or alcohol because they can damage the body physically and mentally.

Toluene is one particularly nasty substance found in inhalants. Also known as toluol, Texas shoeshine, or tolly, toluene is a chemical related to petroleum and coal tar. It is found in paint thinner, inks, glues, stain removers, and nail polish, substances often used as inhalants.

Given that it doesn’t dissolve in water, it makes sense that toluene can harm people, Without proper treatment, abusing toluene can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Poor hygiene
  • Behavior changes
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms show just how dangerous toluene can be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discusses toluene and other potentially toxic substances through its Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Luckily, more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers that toluene and other inhalants pose.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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