Beyond the World Cup – Brazilian Street Children and Inhalants

World Cup graffiti on the wall of Brazilian streets.

When the World Cup is held, the world seems to hold its collective breath. Unlike sports that are primarily American – football, basketball and, to a lesser degree, baseball – soccer truly is international. If this year is anything like earlier years, there will be as many as three billion people watching some or all of these games on television.

But as early-arriving news sources have revealed, there is a more sinister side to Recife, the city in Brazil that hosts this event. Many children are forced into prostitution in Recife, children in their early teens or even boys and girls as young as 10.

To deal with the pain and anguish of abandonment, hunger, and prostitution, these children become addicted to using inhalants, usually a kind of glue they call “cola.” They are then even more trapped in the trade, as they need the money they get from prostitution to continue to buy the glue which enables them to tolerate their lives.

Prostitution takes place in the favelas, the slums of Brazil, but also close to hotels where visiting foreigners will be staying.

Fortunately, there are some charity workers who find some of these children and get them off the streets. But there is not nearly enough help to go around.

young man using inhalants

In America, inhalants are mostly the drugs of teenagers. It’s not uncommon for young teens or even pre-teens to try inhalants. So many of them are from good homes and never go hungry. But hearing that inhalants are good for a thrill, they try them out. Inhalants are a very dangerous experiment, however, as they occasionally kill a person the first time they try them. They basically kill by suffocation, replacing all the oxygen in a person’s lungs.

Teens who are thinking about experimenting with drugs for the first time don’t sit down and talk to their parents about their plans. So it’s up to parents to take the subject up with their kids. Warn them. Let them know that inhalants are deadly and if they don’t kill, they can cause permanent brain damage. Convince your children that they have too much to live for to ever go down that road.

For specifics on how dangerous inhalants are, we have prepared this report for you: Inhalants Drug Abuse, What You Can Do


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.