Prevention of Inhalant Abuse
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, inhalant abuse peaks at 14 to 15 years of age, and can start as early as 5 to 6 years of age. Most people stop abusing inhalants before they leave their teens but they then may begin using a different drug.
Parents must start educating their children early on the possibility of permanent damage and death from inhalant abuse. Because of the young age at which many people start abusing these substances, this education must start early so the subject will obviously have to be discussed very gently in the early years.
Your children will undoubtedly hear from another child about the effects of inhalants in a way that sounds exciting and fun. It may be an older child spreading the word. Your child or children must know before they start hearing these stories about the permanent physical damage that can result from using inhalants. You may want to warn your children that they may be ridiculed if they refuse to join in the inhalant abuse or if they reject the idea. The best solution in most cases is for your children to walk away from the person spreading the idea of inhalant abuse. This is probably not going to be a caring, trustworthy friend anyway. If you can explain this to your children in terms they can understand, they will be safer.
One of the most essential messages to send is that both the child’s parents are united in their opposition to any kind of substance abuse until after the child is 21 years of age. This is an important message whether the family all lives in the same household or not. According to the National Center on Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse, if a person can avoid drinking or using drugs until after he turns 21, he is virtually certain to never have a problem with substance abuse.
Parents must set a good example of sobriety as well. If a parent says that drug abuse is not acceptable but then drinks excessively or uses too many prescription drugs, this mixed message will undermine the parent’s desire to keep the child sober.
Of course, if the parent is using illicit drugs or abusing prescription drugs or alcohol, the best thing he could do to keep the child sober is get himself cleaned up, followed by this drug education.