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Int J Circumpolar Health. 2007 Dec;66(5):425-36.

The use of harmful legal products among pre-adolescent Alaskan students.

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Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage 99508, USA.



This study examined pre-adolescent use of harmful but legally obtainable products (HLPs) "in order to get high" in 4 communities in northwest and southeast Alaska. These products include inhalants, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications taken without a doctor's prescription and common household products.


Cross-sectional survey.


A student survey was administered to the 447 students whose parents consented and who agreed to participate. A descriptive analysis with frequencies, percentages, bivariate associations and appropriate statistical tests produced the study results.


The lifetime overall use of HLPs among fifth, sixth and seventh grade students in 4 Alaskan communities was 17.4%. The lifetime use of inhalants (6.8%) and prescription medications taken without a doctor's prescription (8.0%) appear to be comparable to use rates from other studies. The use of over-the-counter medications (5.7%) appears to be slightly higher than in other U.S. surveys. The use of common household products was 6.1%. No significant differences in the lifetime or 30-day use were found correlated to region, gender, ethnicity or student grade. There was a strong association between 30-day or lifetime use of some HLPs and the (30-day or lifetime) use of alcohol, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.


The use of harmful everyday legal products by fifth, sixth and seventh graders in Alaska appears to be similar to data collected in other parts of the country. The possibility that there may be a link between the use of available legal substances and alcohol, tobacco and marijuana deserves additional attention.

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