Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Preventing Youths’ Use of Inhalants and Other Harmful Legal Products in Frontier Alaskan Communities: A Randomized Trial

Here’s part of the abstract of an new piece of research on VSA which seems to suggest that the risk and protective factors that we might expect to see involved in assessing risk didn’t apply.

This study tests for the efficacy of a school-based drug prevention curriculum (Think Smart) that was designed to reduce use of Harmful Legal Products (HLPs, such as inhalants and over-the-counter drugs), alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs among fifth- and sixth-grade students in frontier Alaska… 

A multi-level analysis found that the Think Smart curriculum produced a decrease (medium size effect) in the proportion of students who used HLPs over a 30-day period at the 6 month follow-up assessment. There were no effects on other drug use. Further, the direct effect of HLPs use was not mediated by the measured risk and protective factors that have been promoted in the prevention field.

Filed under: research, VSA

Deaths from VSA in the UK rose in 2006 to 49 from 45 in 2005

Solvent and Volatile Substance Abuse, Re-solv’s blog, takes a look at the latest set of statistics around VSA deaths. They say:

Re-Solv is pleased to note that deaths in the under-18 year olds continues to fall. With the introduction this year of our Toxic Agents Primary School pack we are in the best possible position to help keep those figures down.

Filed under: VSA

VSA Deaths

St Georges have produced their annual report on volatile substance abuse deaths the latest figures are for 2006.

Their press release says:

In 2006, butane from all sources accounted for 33 of the 49 deaths and of these butane cigarette lighter refills formed the largest group. Five deaths in 2006 were as a result of asphyxia associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide.

In under-18 year olds there were six deaths resulting from volatile substance abuse in 2006, compared with eight in 2005. Two of these deaths were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation.

In the report they point out that there were no deaths amongst 10-14 age group in 2006, but:

In 2006 there were no VSA deaths in the 10-14 age group, but at ages 15-19 years VSA accounted for 0.6% of deaths from all causes. In 2006, transport accidents which are by far the most frequent cause of death in these age groups, accounted for 15.4% of all deaths at ages 10-14 years and 31.6% of all deaths at ages 15-19 years. Deaths associated with drug misuse accounted for 0.4% of all deaths in the 10-14 age group and 4.6% of all deaths in the 15-19 age group.

Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006

Source: Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006

With a slightly longer perspective things do change.  Since 2000 there have been 32 VSA deaths for the 10 to 14 age group (which compares to 8 deaths related to drug misuse over the same period).  Over the same period 21 VSA deaths can be attributed to 15 year olds (20 deaths due to drugs).  At 16 years the lines have very much crossed as there were 13 VSA deaths and 28 deaths that could be attributed to drugs.

Looking at the trends in VSA as highlighted in the recent Drug Use, Smoking and Drinking among Young People in England in 2007, they show there has been a decline in the numbers of 11 to 15 year olds abusing volatile substances.  Down from 7.1% in 2001 to 6.2% in 2007.  Girls are marginally more likely to abuse volatile substances than boys, but this is not reflected in the statistics reported by St Georges.  They say that all the deaths to under 18s in 2006 were males.

Filed under: death, VSA, ,

Inhalant.org , Inhalant Abuse, Inhalant Education

Inhalant.org the website produced by the American Alliance for Consumer Education has what they call an Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit:

The Kit is intended for presentations to adult audiences. Specifically parents of elementary and middle school children, so they can talk to their children about the dangers and risks associated with Inhalants. We base the program on data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Statistics show that parents talking to their kids about drugs decrease the risk of the kids trying a drug.

You can download a range of materials here if you fill in a short survey.

There’s also a blog.

Filed under: USA, VSA

International Resources and Research

Pushing Back has a post about a new leaflet for parents who suspect their child may be taking drugs:

Research shows that kids start using drugs and alcohol because they feel the need to take risks or they believe it will help them fit in or feel better. Sometimes they use drugs because they are seeking relief from stress or feelings of depression. And it’s important to remember that there is, sometimes, a genetic risk for addiction — just like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.

So how can you tell if your child is using drugs? It is difficult because changes in mood or attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits, changes in hobbies or other interests are common in teens.

Download the leaflet here.

Meanwhile the Australian government have published a review of interventions that have been aimed at Volatile Substance Abuse. Here’s what their executive summary says about education interventions:

Australian educational authorities continue to pursue a policy of not providing education about VSM [Volatile Substance Misuse] under school-based drug education programs, on the grounds that such education may inadvertently encourage experimentation with inhalants. Some information about volatile substances is provided through occupational health and safety training. In England and Wales, by contrast, schools are required to include information about solvents in drug education programs. The UK Government is currently funding a five-year follow up study of the impact of school-based drug education on subsequent drug use.

Education targeting known inhalants appears to be ineffective when it adopts scare tactics. However, education highlighting the potential impact of VSM on valued activities, such as capacity to play sport, may be useful.

Education about inhalants for parents and professional people likely to come into contact with VSM, such as teachers and welfare workers, and for communities where VSM occurs, has been shown to be of value.

Several innovative programs have been developed using Indigenous cultural practices as vehicles for combating VSM, in particular through art forms, story telling and restoration of important caring relationships. The impact of such activities is difficult to determine, and few initiatives have been evaluated.

Skills training, remedial education and employment have all been shown to contribute to reducing VSM.

Filed under: International, parents, research, USA, VSA

New primary school VSA resource launched

Re-Solve have a new resource:

Re-Solv is proud to present “Toxic Agents” – the most detailed resource for primary school age children the we have ever produced.

Toxic Agents has been put together by Re-Solv’s Youth Liaison Officer, Kay Carter, following research and consultation with primary school teachers and students.

Filed under: VSA,

Shop owners warned over solvent sales

I’m trying to cut down on the number of “crack down” stories that I post about, but you don’t see too many VSA stories in the press so I’m going to make an exception for this one in the East Anglian Daily Times:

SHOP owners in Essex will be punished if they sell solvents to people under the age of 18, trading standards officers have warned.It follows random testing during which 10% of shops supplied a youngster with lighter fuel.

Throughout February Essex County Council Trading Standards conducted test sales for solvents at 50 stores across the county, using an underage volunteer.

Further reading:

Filed under: VSA,

Drive to cut solvent abuse deaths – Scotland

The BBC carry a story on a new resource on VSA being launched in Scotland:

A new training pack aimed at reducing the number of deaths from solvent abuse is to be launched in Stirling.

There were 287 fatalities in Scotland between 1971 and 2005, which campaigners said was more than 30% higher than the national average.

Voluntary workers, health professionals and the authorities are due to attend a conference on Tuesday to discuss the problem.

The training resource for social workers will be launched at the event.

We highlighted the conference a few weeks ago.

Filed under: Scotland, VSA

Update on “Tackling Volatile Substance Abuse in Scotland :A training programme for social work staff “

I’ve been asked to bring your attention to the following by Chris at Re-Solv.

Following extensive piloting the final version of this training resource will be launched at a one-day conference on VSA to be held in Stirling on Tues 4 September 2007.

Re-Solv is holding the conference jointly with Forth Valley Substance Action Team to re-focus the attention on VSA.  Guest speakers from a variety of sectors will present different perspectives surrounding the issue of VSA. More information and booking forms available from Chris Daly, cd@unityprojects.co.uk Tel 01260 299093

Filed under: Scotland, VSA

Numbers game Volatile substance abuse

Young People Now covers the issue of VSA Deaths: 

A report by the Division of Community Health Services at St George’s, University of London, shows that half of the under-18s who died from VSA in 2005 were female. This is an increase in the proportion of deaths of young women – in 2003, only 31 per cent of under-18s who died were female.

In October 1999 legislation was introduced that banned the sale of cigarette lighter refills to under-18s. However, though there was a fall in the number of lighter refill-related deaths following the legislation, the report says that the decline does not “differ significantly from that predicted by the underlying trend”, and there is no evidence that the legislation caused the fall.

Filed under: VSA

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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