Monday, March 28, 2011

VSA Headlines: March 2011


The United States recognised National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week this month, an annual media-based, community-level program that takes place the third week in March. Organised by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC), the awareness week is designed to increase understanding about the use and risks of inhalant involvement (usually referred to in the UK as 'volatile substance abuse' or 'VSA') and garners widespread media attention.

This year, the week was also marked by the publication of a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in collaboration with the NIPC. It reports that 54% of U.S. treatment admissions for inhalant abuse in 2008 were those age 18 or older, and that an estimated 1.1 million adults age 18 and older used inhalants in the past year. (By contrast, estimated adult past year use levels for the following other substances were lower: Crack - 988,000, LSD - 637,000, Heroin - 571,000 and PCP - 75,000.)

The NIPC, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), held a press conference on March 17 to discuss the public health problem of inhalant abuse by adults now illuminated by this disturbing new government data.


So soon after VSA caused the death of a Belfast 12-year-old (reported in January), it's concerning to read The Belfast Telegraph again reporting that solvent abuse fear grows. Certainly, the annual UK report Trends in Death Associated with the Abuse of Volatile Substances, shows that Northern Ireland continues to have the highest VSA mortality rate in the UK.


Our glue-sniffing epidemic shame (Bundaberg): Glue-sniffing is reaching epidemic proportions with children as young as 10 being caught in the act around the Bundaberg CBD, police say.


Teen was sniffing glue when he fell: State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid found that there was no evidence to suggest foul play. He found that Shawn had drowned when he accidentally fell into the pond after ingesting toluene.


Following The Times of India story of a young medical student suspected to have died following excessive inhalation of whitener, The Hindustan Times covered a number of stories this month: City students sniff ink for a high (Mumbai), and a series of articles based in Delhi: Fleeting highs and lifelong health woes, Delhi kids on a dangerous high and Addiction not limited to homeless youth.


Teenager dies in 'huffing' incident (Johannesburg): The parents of a Sandton high school pupil who died after inhaling household aerosol to get high, are hoping that the news of his death will draw attention to the problem. Shannon Greenspans’ mother, Heidi, said since her son’s death on Saturday, she has realised how widespread "huffing" has become. “Many kids have come from many different schools to say Shannon has saved my life. It was almost like an epidemic,” she said. Read more.