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Severe Inhalant Use Highest Among Adolescents With a Brain Injury, Past Trauma, or Mental Illness

inhalant use among adolescents with mental illness or is a past brain injury is more common

A new study performed by Georgia State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers show that adolescents who have past trauma, mental illness, or a brain injury also tend to engage in inhalant use at higher rates than their peers. The study evaluated adolescents who were incarcerated, and the results also showed that youths who were engaged in severe inhalant use also tended to display delinquent behaviors at an earlier age and started their drug abuse younger as well. This is the first time that inhalant use patterns in adolescents have been studied on a deeper level. Hopefully the study results will help the medical and substance abuse communities develop treatment programs for this group that is effective.

Inhalant use, also called huffing, sniffing, or snorting fumes, can be deadly. Toxic substances are inhaled which prevent oxygen from reaching the brain, and these substances can have various effects on other parts of the body as well. In some cases it may be difficult to determine whether mental illness or a brain injury was the reason the individual started to use inhalants, or if their use of inhalants led to these conditions instead. According to School of Social Work in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State assistant professor Susan M. Snyder, “Our goal is to understand the simultaneous use of specific inhalants, which could lead to prevention and intervention strategies. This study demonstrates the need to address the high rate of head injuries and mental health diagnoses that contribute to polyinhalant use. Based on our findings, we believe that policymakers and clinicians should target antisocial youth for prevention and treatment.”

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