Inhalant use and delinquent behavior among adolescents: a comparison of inhalant users and other drug users


  • Mary Ellen Mackesy-Amiti,

  • Michael Fendrich


Aims. To evaluate the association between inhalant use and delinquent or criminal behavior. Design. A large statewide sample of high school students participated in a survey on drug use. Five groups were identified based on reported drug use: inhalant experimenters, other drug experimenters, inhalant users, other drug users and non-users. Inhalant users were compared with other drug users and inhalant experimenters with other drug experimenters on three measures of problem behavior. Participants. Over 13 000 students in grades 7-12 participated in the 1993 survey on drug use. Measurements. Three measures of problem behavior: drinking and drug-taking, "trouble behavior" and minor criminal activity. Findings. Among upper (9-12) grade level students only, both inhalant users and inhalant experimenters reported more minor criminal activity than other drug users and other drug experimenters, respectively. A similar trend was noted for trouble behavior. The same was not found for drinking and drug-taking behavior. Conclusions. The findings suggest that inhalant use is categorically different from other drug use, and that it has more in common with general delinquency than with general drug use. Prevention and treatment strategies should take this into consideration.