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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2009 Dec;41(4):337-47.

Nitrous oxide inhalation among adolescents: prevalence, correlates, and co-occurrence with volatile solvent inhalation.

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School of Social Work, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.


Few studies have examined the prevalence of nitrous oxide (NO) inhalation or co-occurrence of NO and volatile solvent (VS) use in adolescents. Study aims were to (1) describe the independent and conjoint prevalence of NO and VS use in incarcerated youth, (2) compare adolescent users of both NO and VS inhalants (NO+VS) to users of NO-only, VS-only, and nonusers of NO and VS (NO/VNS nonusers) with regard to demographic, psychological, and behavioral characteristics, and (3) conduct logistic regression analyses identifying correlates of NO use. Residents (N = 723) of Missouri Division of Youth Services were assessed with standardized psychosocial measures. Participants averaged 15.5 (SD = 1.2) years of age, were ethnically diverse and predominantly male. Lifetime prevalence of NO use was 15.8%. NO+VS users evidenced greater impairments compared to NO+VS nonusers. VS-only users evidenced impairments that were similar in kind but at lower prevalences compared to those displayed by NO+VS users, whereas NO-only youth had profiles that were similar to those of NO/VS nonusers. Psychiatric disorders, polydrug use, and temperamental fearlessness were correlates of NO use. NO+VS users were at high risk for behavioral and emotional problems. Screening and interventions for NO and VS inhalant use should be implemented in juvenile justice facilities.

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