Adolescents and Inhalant Abuse: How Huffing Affects the Myelin Sheath

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As concern grows over the impact that accidental chemical exposures may have on the long term health of individuals, our young people are deliberately exposing themselves to the effect of neurotoxic chemicals with the intent of feeling high. Over time the result of inhaling these chemicals is often the development of symptoms and behavior that may suggest serious physiological damage. Research is being conducted to examine what the exact nature of the damage might be, especially the impact of inhaled lipophilic chemicals on structures in the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Healthcare professionals responsible for assessing adolescents in all settings need to be aware of the prevalence of inhalant abuse, as well as the chemicals, terminology, and potential symptomatology in order to intervene in the behavior and provide diagnosis and treatment as indicated. Some implications for nursing are included.

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