WASHINGTON – The abuse of inhalants among Fairfax County students is above the national average, according to a new survey released by the county.
Approximately 2.9 percent of Fairfax County students reported huffing — or breathing in fumes to get high — within the month before the Fairfax County Youth Survey was taken last fall. That percentage is down from the 3.9 percent reported in 2010 but is back up from the 2.5 percent in 2011, and is an average of usage rates among eighth, 10th and 12th-graders in the county.
While low overall, the usage rate is higher than the 1.7 percent rate reported nationwide, the survey says.
The research found inhalants were the only substance with higher rates of usage by Fairfax County’s eighth-grade students — 5 percent — than 12th-grade students, whose usage rate was 1.4 percent.
Inhalants were the second-most frequently used substance by eighth-graders after alcohol. In the survey, 6.5 percent of eighth-graders reported consuming alcohol.
Also, more girls reported using inhalants in the past month than boys — 3.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
Inhalants are fumes or gases that are used to get high. They include common household substances such as glues, aerosols, butane and solvents, the survey says.
The survey says inhalant use may be more prevalent among younger students because the substances are easy to obtain.
Huffing has many long-term health effects such as liver and kidney damage, hearing loss and bone marrow damage. It also can lead to death, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.