New figures have revealed 40 per cent of teenagers in Northamptonshire know someone who has tried sniffing solvents such as aerosols, gases and glues.
The data, compiled by county-based charity Solve It following a poll of 1,376 youngsters aged between 15 and 17, highlights the extent of what's been called an "experimenting epidemic".
Figures revealed that less than half of those surveyed (46 per cent) had received education around the dangers of solvent abuse, while 94 per cent believed education on the issue should be available in schools.
Solve It is the only charity based in Northamptonshire which provides education about, and raises awareness of, the dangers of abusing solvents such as aerosols, gases and glue and new psychoactive substances (NPS), often mistakenly referred to as ‘legal highs’.
Catherine Maryon, chair of trustees at Solve It, said: “The spread of solvent abuse and the use of NPS is extremely alarming.
"We have a generation of young people growing up in a culture where it’s deemed acceptable to take substances without any idea what it contains or any concept of the potential consequences.
"We are in the grip of an experimenting epidemic.
"The good news is that a huge proportion of young people want more education on this topic.
"It’s essential we have the chance to work with local authorities, local schools and youth groups to reach our young people and give them the opportunity to make informed choices when it comes to solvents and other substances."
Solve It, based in Ringstead, has been providing young people, parents, carers, partners and professionals with preventive education and advice about the risks and dangers of solvent abuse, NPS and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for almost 30 years.
The charity has worked with over 20,000 people, both young people and the adults who live and work with them.
Rachel Fletcher, project and support coordinator at Solve It, said: "Solvent abuse and the use of new psychoactive substances remains prevalent.
"It can have direct and indirect impact on crime, communities and health."