Inhalants are often among the first drugs that young adolescents abuse. In fact, they are one of the few classes of substances that are abused more by younger adolescents than older ones. Inhalant abuse can become chronic and continue into adulthood.
Data from national and state surveys suggest that inhalant abuse is most common among 7th through 9th graders. For example, in the Monitoring the Future study, an annual NIDA-supported survey of the Nation's secondary school students, 8th graders regularly report the highest rate of current, past-year, and lifetime inhalant abuse compared to 10th and 12th graders. In 2012, 6.2 percent of 8th graders, 4.1 percent of 10th graders, and 2.9 percent of 12th graders reported abusing inhalants in the year prior to the survey. One of the reasons may be that, according to the 2012 survey, nearly 66 percent of 8th graders don’t think trying inhalants once or twice is risky and 41 percent don’t consider the regular use of inhalants to be harmful. Young teens may not understand the risks of inhalant use as well as they should.