WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 using inhalants decreased from 820,000 in 2011 to about 650,000 in 2012, federal health officials say.
A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defined inhalants in the survey as "liquids, sprays and gases that people sniff or inhale to get high or to make them feel good."
Rates decreased from 4.4 percent in 2006 to 2.6 percent in 2012. The decline was also among several demographic groups and in numerous metropolitan areas, the report said.
"This downward trend of inhalant use in adolescents is very encouraging," Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of the SAMHSA, said in a statement.
The report entitled Recent Declines in Adolescent Inhalant Use was based on findings from SAMHSA's 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey that collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the populations via face-to-face interviews at their place of residence.
Inhalants are legal, everyday products including spray paints, glue and gasoline that are harmless when used as intended. However, when the vapors from these products are intentionally inhaled to get high, they become potentially toxic and sometimes lethal.
When inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways they are absorbed quickly through the lungs into the bloodstream and the user experiences a rapid but short-lived intoxication.