Commentary on Inhalant Abuse from Dr. Shobhit Jain/ AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Dr. Shobhit Jain AIIMS Thank you for inviting an article about my research. My study is
focused on Indian Adolescent Inhalant Users.

Adolescence is defined as the life stage between childhood and
adulthood. It begins with biological maturation (puberty), when young
people must accomplish developmental tasks and develop a sense of
personal identity. It ends when young people achieve self-sufficient
adulthood as defined by society. Adolescence period is the greatest
window of vulnerability for risk consequences across the life span.
Such risk taking, thrill seeking, and reckless behaviours have
received a great deal of attention in research particularly in the
last decade. Included in this phenomenon of increased risk taking are
behaviours, such as minor criminal activity, sexual activity, alcohol
consumption and substance use (Bingham et al, 1994).

Substance use is one of the three major health risks that can lead to
devastating health consequences for adolescents. Substance use can
lead to illness and even death, and it is also related to unsafe sex,
accidents, violence and loss of productivity. Substance abuse refers
to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances. Repeated
and prolonged or heavy use of such substances can lead to dependence,
which is characterised by continued use of the substance despite
physical and psychological problems, strong desire to take substance,
tolerance, withdrawals, loss of control and neglect of other
activities and interest (WHO, 2001).

Recent years have seen a growth, in the number of studies of substance
abuse and dependence focussing on prevalence, risk factors,
co-morbidity, course and outcome. Among commonly used substances by
adolescents, inhalants seems to be the least studied one and there are
very few studies addressing issues of dependence , psychiatric
co-morbidity and impact of inhalant use on other domains. In
developing countries like India, situation is not different.

There are various studies in order to understand craving and relapse
and evaluate the efficacy of medications.

Inhalants are common drugs of abuse in adolescents. Based on this
background, my research is formulated to understand addictive
behaviour among adolescents. We will also focus on various social
factors associated with addictive behaviour among Indian Adolescent
Inhalant Users.

Dr. Shobhit Jain AIIMS, New Delhi India

Nairobi Kenya/ NGO StreetLife Care Org

A guest blog by Nicole Brewer

793702_479868442062470_751874465_o-169x300A couple months ago I had the distinct pleasure to take a volunteerism trip to Kenya during my break from teaching in the Middle East. I really wanted to do something that was out of the box, instead of a regular vacation.  A friend of mine introduced me beforehand to a really great NGO group called StreetLife Care Org. that goes out into the streets of Nairobi to feed impoverished street kids. It was my first eye-opening experience to see firsthand runaways partaking in huffin’glue.  Please visit the embedded link to see details on this great organization.  I believe they can help impart change with their firsthand experiences with kids huffin’ glue.

Nairobi Kenya NGO StreetLife Care Org


participate in a global dialog

Richard Lakin, 18 rabbits digital media co-founder

Richard Lakin, 18 rabbits digital media co-founder

The primary reason that we are undertaking this documentary production is that we have seen the effects and scope of inhalant abuse during our travels in the developing world. If you’re working for an NGO where you have regular contact with street kids, then you know what we’re talking about. We invite you to share your experiences on this blog, and are very interested in publishing guest editorials. We’d like this documentary production and blog to be an exercise in interactive dialog among NGO workers and global health professionals. We’re also looking for NGOs to be our on-the-ground contacts during our production process. We’ll compensate your organization for your time, as well as provide international visibility for your organization’s work. This blog has seen considerable worldwide exposure in the few days that it’s been online, so your thoughts and/or on-location participation will reach a global audience. We hope that you’ll follow our blog, post comments & editorials, and use the share buttons to bring your colleagues into the discussion. Please use the form below to contact us.

-Richard Lakin

Note: if you’d like to contribute editorial submissions, we recommend that you create a WordPress username if you don’t already have one. Here’s the link to the WordPress sign up:

addicted to Toluene

Toluene : Damages myelin in the brain (myelin facilitates neuron responses) leading to loss of vision/hearing; cognitive disruption, including speech impairment and memory loss; balance disorders and loss of dexterity; loss of control of bowel movements or urination.

Toluene is what gives the high “huffers” get from glue. It’s common in most shoe and furniture glues, and it’s destroying the lives of countless youngsters around the world. Fifteen years ago this was primarily a Latin American problem among homeless street kids, but in the ensuing decade and a half, the practice of “huffin” has spread around the world.

From Katmandu, Nepal to Odessa, Ukraine; from Manchester, England to Nairobi, Kenya; From Karachi to Tangiers to LaPaz to St. Petersburg, Russia, UNICEF and other U.N. agencies estimate there are 150 million homeless street kids in the world today and nearly 90% are abusing inhalants. Nowhere is the problem more acute than in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Susan Hollis, a Canadian journalist, wrote about street kids in Tegucigalpa a few years ago;

 “Coke, Pepsi, Gerber, read the labels on their bottles and jars, but Honduran street kids aren’t hustling daily for soda pop or baby food. They recycle the containers to carry an acrid, viscous, amber-coloured industrial grade glue that is cheaper than crack, gets them higher than cocaine, and costs just $15 Lempira ($1 Canadian) a hit. An eight-year-old can scrape that up, and they do.”

 Both ubiquitous and nearly invisible at the same time, glue sniffing is generally ignored in the Western press. Our hope is to change that. We want to put a personal face on this situation. We intend to meet and talk with and try to get to know these kids and hopefully make them visible enough to stimulate some change.

 So follow us as we travel and film. We’re heading to Honduras soon to begin our first shoot. We’ll be providing regular blog-updates and tweets, along with videos and pics as we work. We invite you to come along, watch us work, comment, give us your ideas, and let us know what you think. We hope that you’ll share our posts and subscribe to our blog.

Here’s a video we did some years ago about an NGO in Nairobi, Kenya that works with street youth that are addicted to inhalants:

our documentary about a global epidemic

hg2In my work, producing media for NGOs in the developing world, I’ve found that there are three things that all of the poorest places in the world have in common when I arrive. First, there’s the smoky haze from wood fires and the open burning of garbage. Secondly, there are tragic numbers of homeless street kids…either abandoned by their parents through economic necessity, or orphaned by gang violence or AIDS. And third, there is a visible presence of kids sniffing glue. Inhalants are the drug of choice and availability for the world’s poorest youth.

When discussing my travel experiences, I find that many people are surprised that glue is one of the most abused substances in the world. The majority of people in the West are unaware of the scope of this problem. Inhalant abuse by street kids is, in fact, a greatly under-addressed global health issue.

Glue sniffing quickly and permanently destroys the addicts’ ability to function in society, and dooms them to a lifetime on the street, in an institution, or to an early death. Glue is cheap, readily available, and it both curbs hunger and lessens the misery of street life. Moreover, there is little attention paid to it by law enforcement because it’s not illegal to possess glue, and there are no drug cartels involved…greatly diminishing international interest, agency cooperation, and media exposure.

These kids, in huge numbers all over the world, are either regarded as “invisible” or are treated with contempt in their societies. Subsequently, programs to curb this brain-damaging addiction are rare. In Honduras, for example, glue-addicted youth are seen as a nuisance and a source of crime, so neighborhood vigilantes routinely execute them. The local police appear to have a “good riddance” attitude toward this kind of street justice. I actually witnessed the digging of two graves in a vacant lot, intended for two glue-addicted boys who were known to be persistent thieves. The next morning the graves were filled in. An NGO worker in Nairobi told me that the police, collecting a fee, enable foreign pedophiles to exploit glue-addicted children. Inhalant abuse raises the already high odds of becoming the victims of violence and sexual exploitation for children in many of the world’s poorest places. Shunned and persecuted in their communities, the only help that is available usually comes from small, underfunded local NGOs that are already over capacity.

During my travels in Latin America and East Africa, I’ve seen glue sniffing up-close and in-person countless times. I saw a young woman in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, walking nude in traffic, howling madly from inhalant-induced dementia. I’ve seen pre-teens in Nairobi, Kenya, with a bottle of glue stuck to their lip to keep the fumes available all day, competing with huge storks for the rancid scraps from a slaughterhouse’s landfill. I’ve seen teenagers with soulless eyes in São Paulo, Brazil nervously shaking pencils, which I found out are used to stir the glue to produce vapor. The fact is, I never had to look hard to see these things. Glue sniffing is prevalent and constantly encountered among the poorest of the poor, all over the world. This is an issue that has had little attention in the international media, but is producing a generation of addicts with nothing to lose in their daily pursuit of a bit of furniture glue.

To that end, 18 rabbits digital media is producing a documentary about glue sniffing in order to bring attention to this global health crises among the world’s street youth. We will be filming segments in Central America, East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. Our journey will begin in northern Honduras where we’ll be working with an NGO that has programs for at-risk youth.

We hope that you’ll sign on to our blog and follow the process of the documentary through pre-production, location shoots, editing, and distribution.

-Richard Lakin