What Will They Think Of Next?
Tags: antisocial adolescents antisocial conduct asthma inhaler abuse inhaler misuse
Asthma, an often chronic lung condition, affects approximately 20 million U.S. residents (roughly 8% of the general population). Some 40 million prescriptions were dispensed in the U.S. for asthma inhalers in 2006. The pharmacological actions of albuterol/salbutamol inhalers include increased heart rate and blood pressure. While some case studies have reported misuse/abuse, few investigations have systematically looked at the prevalence, patterns, correlates or consequences of asthma-inhaler abuse. This survey looked at asthma-inhaler abuse among a group of antisocial youth.
Researchers examined data collected from a 2003 survey of 723 (629 boys, 94 girls) adolescents, with mean age of 15.5 years, living in a Missouri Division of Youth Services facility (an alternative sentencing option for youthful offenders). Voluntary, face-to-face interviews queried the youth about their substance abuse, psychiatric symptoms, and antisocial behaviors.
Results showed that asthma-inhaler misuse for the purposes of getting high was prevalent among the youth examined, and co-occurred with other psychiatric and substance-use problems. More specifically, roughly 26 percent (193) of the youth were diagnosed with asthma (a rate twice that of comparably aged youth in the general population), and 93.2 percent had received a prescription for an inhaler. More than half of the youth (373) reported using a prescribed or non-prescribed asthma inhaler; and of these, 23.6 percent (n=88) reported using an inhaler to get high. Asthma-inhaler abusers had an earlier onset of antisocial conduct, greater levels of psychiatric distress, higher levels of volatile-solvent and other substance-use problems as well as significantly higher levels of temperamental impulsivity and fearlessness than did non-users or proper users of inhalers.
Findings also indicated that asthma-inhaler abusers were significantly more likely to report euphoria, memory problems, slurred speech, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, and a variety of other acute reactions not reported by those who used the inhalers properly.
(Perron, BE, Howard, MO: Endemic asthma inhaler abuse among antisocial adolescents. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 96:22-29, 2008)