Parent Testimonials Video

Huffing: Dangers of Inhalant Abuse

Huffing is an extremely dangerous form of abusing inhaled substances to achieve a temporary high. Many younger children and teens fall victim to this type of inhalant abuse because the substances needed for them to obtain the high can be found within their own homes. This is what makes huffing abuse so dangerous, because parents may take every precaution to ensure that their children have no access to recreational drugs, alcohol, or over the counter or prescription drugs, yet they may not even consider the possibilities that common household items may be used to obtain a high.

Huffing occurs when chemical vapors, found in a wide variety of sources, are intentionally inhaled in order to achieve an altered state of mind or body, usually producing a feeling of euphoria. However, these fleeting moments of euphoria can come with a high price tag, possibly even resulting in death on the first attempt.

Sadly, the primary age range of those participating in inhalant abuse to get high includes 12 to 17 year olds. The National Survey on Drug Abuse reported that from the year 1999 to the year 2000, the incidence of inhalant abuse rose a staggering 158%. Chronic abuse of inhaled substances can result in irreversible, permanent damage to major bodily organs such as the heart, lings, kidney, and brain. Signs of brain damage from huffing can include slurred speech, memory loss, and impaired cognitive abilities.

There is a phenomena sometimes experienced with huffing known as SSD. This stands for Sudden Sniffing Death and may occur at any time after repeated huffing attempts, or even the very first time a person tries huffing. In other words, the first time very well may be the last time, with no room for second chances or regrets. Sudden Sniffing Death is usually caused from irregular heartbeat that can suddenly lead to failure of the heart.

Many common household items contain ingredients that can be used in huffing, which is a frightening thought. This makes it extremely important to talk with your children about the serious dangers of huffing to discourage the behavior. Common chemicals used in huffing include the volatile solvents category of products such as gasoline, paint thinners, nail polishes and removers, and even the "stinky" variety of felt tipped markers. You may have heard about some kid at school sniffing markers in the past, and never really realized they were actually participating in inhalant abuse, or huffing.

Aerosols are used in huffing for their propellant ingredients such as toluene. Aerosols are used in such common products as spray paints, spray deodorants, and are even used in non-stick cooking sprays.

Even food products are not immune to be used as tools for inhalant abuse. Innocent seeming products such as whipped cream cans are sometimes huffed. These whipped cream dispensers fall into the "gases" category of materials used in huffing, as they contain Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas. These gases are also present in such items as propane tanks and butane lighters.

Parents need to be aware that some products used for huffing can be purchased online or even in local adult bookstores. These include small sealed capsules that are known as poppers, which are snapped to release chemical vapors in them to then be inhaled by the abuser.

Note that any and all of these products are perfectly safe when used according to directions. The problem lies in the fact that when these items are used in huffing, they are not being used, but rather abused. Signs of inhalant abuse can include an appearance of drunkenness, strong chemical odors emanating from the person's clothing or breath, red and runny nose, sores around the nose and mouth, and slurring of speech.

Often, there are many other clues that can help determine if someone is huffing. Aside from the actual physical symptoms, look for unexplained staining on clothing and skin (this can indicate spray paints being used for inhalant abuse),and an unusual amount of empty aerosol type cans laying around, or perhaps stumbling upon a stash of hidden household products, either full or empty. All of these can indicate that someone is using these products for something other than their intended purpose.

Those who abuse inhalants can be very sneaky, and even bring their method of abuse to school with no one even noticing. Many times inhalant abusers will saturate the collar of their shirts or cuffs of clothing and sit right in class getting high. Others may bring a paper bag wherever they go to spray the substances into for sniffing purposes.

As can be seen, huffing is a very dangerous form of substance abuse and needs to be taken seriously. Inhalant abusers need special help, as they many times fall victim to a relapse after initial treatment. There is typically a detoxification period of 30-40 days required for successful treatment for this addiction. During this period, the inhalant abuser will experience many unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as hallucination, chills, and delirium tremens.

You may take some steps at home to try to eliminate temptations for the recovering inhalant abuser. At every possible opportunity, seek out alternative products for use around the home. For example, swap the spray deodorant for a stick, use a solid air freshener as opposed to sprays, skip the cooking spray and opt for oil or butter. If you still have aerosols around the home that could potentially be abused, perhaps consider locking them away in a storage locker where the key cannot be found by the abuser.

Counseling and treatment programs are important to break the abuser from their dangerous habit before it is too late. Getting to the root of the underlying issue that prompted them to begin inhalant abuse in the first place is essential in dealing with the problem.