BOSTON—A groundbreaking study released Monday by the American Medical Association, conducted in conjunction with the National Organization of Craft and Hobby Retailers, finds that repeated exposure to glue fumes and other industrial chemicals "may prove to be our most effective weapon yet in the fight against teen boredom."
Though ABS (Adolescent Boredom Syndrome), a debilitating condition that afflicts an estimated 90 percent of Americans between the ages of 11 and 17, has long been regarded by the medical community as incurable, the study reported that "significant reductions in teen-boredom levels" were observed in youths who regularly self-administered concentrated doses of airplane glue and other solvents.
"It's a tremendous breakthrough," said Dr. Gerald Osgood, the report's co-author. "This could be the most significant development since the 1973 discovery that aerosol whipped-cream canisters can get you really high."
Glue fumes, which can cause light-headedness, dizziness, incoherence and involuntary loss of muscle control, have for years been dismissed by model-airplane hobbyists as an unpleasant side-effect of working in poorly ventilated areas. However, the AMA/NOCHR study found that such fumes, when used as part of a regular fume-inhalation regimen, can have a powerful psychoactive effect, easing the painful boredom of American life for millions of post-pubescents with nothing better to do.
"I hate school, I hate chores, I hate my stupid family, and everything on TV bites, so what's left?" asked Mesa, AZ, 16-year-old Doug Weineke, one of 1,700 ABS sufferers who participated in the study. "Me and my friends used to get so bored, we'd drive down to the parking lot of Arby's and just stand around."
"Talk about your thrilling excursions," added Weineke, displaying the telltale "sarcasm" side-effect long associated with ABS. "But now that we've discovered glue-sniffing, all that's changed. We figure, there's nothing to do in this stupid town anyway, so why not huff fumes from a paper sack until we pass out in my dad's garage? It's not like he gives a crap one way or the other. All he cares about is his stupid job at the tile store."
Adolescent boredom, the leading cause of surliness in teenage males and the third most common cause of unwanted pregnancy in females under the age of 16, has baffled doctors for decades. As recently as 1997, medical researchers almost universally regarded the condition as incurable. Yet, according to the new report, even a small quantity of glue, when inhaled, can alleviate many of the most debilitating effects of adolescent boredom, including introspection, awareness of the passage of time, and consciousness.
"The glue worked great—I hadn't felt so little boredom in years, mainly because I wasn't aware of my surroundings, peers or self," said study participant Ryan Jenkins, 14. "The only downside was, when I woke up behind the Dumpster, like a couple hours later or something, I had this splitting headache. Oh, and somebody stole my shoes. But other than that, it was the bomb."
Though the report has sent shockwaves through the medical community, its findings come as no surprise to the millions of Americans who for years have been employing fume-based boredom-alleviation techniques as a sort of "home remedy" homeopathic cure. Such longtime proponents agree that it's about time the medical establishment finally caught on.
"All the kids want to sniff some glue," said Joseph Ramone, a leading glue-sniffing advocate since the mid-'70s. "Why? Because they want to have something to do."
While Ramone praised the study as "a step in the right direction," he stressed that it does not go far enough.
"After more than two decades of self-administering glue fumes--not to mention epoxies, aerosol sprays, acrylic adhesives, silicone resins, methacrylates, contact cements, urethanes, polyurethanes and hot melts--I know from experience that glue-huffing is an effective tool in the fight against adolescent boredom, as well as many other kinds of boredom," Ramone said, "including, for example, post-adolescent, early-20s, mid-20s, post-mid-20s, pre-mid-30s, mid-30s, late-30s, middle-age, and late-middle-age boredom."
Despite such praise, the treatment is not without its detractors.
"My science teacher said it's destroying my higher brain functions, and that someday I could get permanent brain damage if I didn't stop," said Morgantown, WV, ABS sufferer Timothy Keck, 13, who was recently prescribed 12 fluid ounces of Glu-Tek model-airplane glue by his family physician. "But I just told him, 'Oh yeah, Mr. Hammaker? Well, listening to you talk about stupid protozoa and shit all day long would give anybody permanent brain damage, so there.'"