Teens Get High with One Household Huff

More pre-teens using household inhalants to get high, according to survey

ByABC News via logo
April 7, 2010, 1:58 PM

April 8, 2010— -- In 7th grade, Riley Foster, 16, of Indianapolis, Ind., would hide out in his garage after school and incessantly inhale gasoline for hours.

A one-time athlete, good student, and social teen, Riley became distant and withdrawn. Riley was addicted to huffing gasoline, but his parents did not know it.

"He didn't spend as much time with the family, he slept more, he was more argumentative and more irritated," said Riley's mother, Tammie Foster.

Riley first experimented with inhalants at age 12 when he sniffed a can of duster at a friend's house.

"It's just kind of like taking your head away from your body," he said. "The first time I ended up blacking out."

The more he inhaled, the more he liked it, he said. And the abuse quickly escalated.

"It is such a short high, so you can't pull yourself away from it," said Riley.

Foster said she did not know her son was using inhalants until she found Riley blacked out in the garage from an overdose.

"He was stumbling, his speech was extremely slurred, he was belligerent," Foster said. "I was scared to death that he was going to die."

Data released in March by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that 12-year-old kids are more likely to get high from common, legal household substances including aerosol computer cleaners, air fresheners, hair spray or shoe polish than use cigarettes or marijuana.

Riley isn't alone in experimenting with inhalant abuse, commonly known as huffing. National drug use surveys by SAMHSA between 2006 and 2008 indicate that nearly 7 percent of 12 year olds have used inhalants to get high.

National surveys indicate that nearly 22.3 million Americans have used inhalants at least once in their lives, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA's Monitoring the Future study suggests that 15.7 percent of eighth-graders have ever used inhalants.