Nitrite Inhalant Abuse in Antisocial Youth: Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors

Hall, Martin T.; Howard, Matthew O.
June 2009
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs;Jun2009, Vol. 41 Issue 2, p135
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence, patterns, and predictors of nitrite inhalant use in antisocial adolescents. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 723 Missouri youth (Mage = 15.5, SD = 1.2) in residential care for antisocial behavior. The lifetime prevalence of nitrite inhalant use was 1.7% (1.3% for boys; 4.3% for girls, p = .06), a figure somewhat higher than comparable estimates from the MTF and NSDUH national surveys. Most lifetime users reported nitrite use in the prior year (92%) and experienced intoxication (83%) during periods of nitrite inhalation. Nitrite users had significantly higher scores on measures of somatization, obsessive-compulsive traits, interpersonal sensitivity, impulsivity, fearlessness, suicidality, and polydrug use and were significantly more likely to have suffered a serious head injury and to be White than their non-nitrite-using counterparts. Nitrite users also reported significantly higher levels of current psychiatric distress related to periods of faintness or dizziness, hot or cold spells, difficulty making decisions, and their "mind going blank" than did non-nitrite users. Antisocial adolescent nitrite users are at substantially elevated risk for serious functional impairments given their high rates of lifetime head injury, comparatively more varied and intensive levels of involvement with psychoactive drugs, and symptom reports suggestive of psychiatric and cognitive dysfunction.


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