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Inhalant Abuse commonly known as “huffing,” is the intentional inhalation of fumes from substances to achieve a state of disorientation or euphoria. Chemicals in commonly abused inhalants include: fluorocarbons, nitrous oxide, propane, butane, ethyl chloride and acetone. The high from inhalant abuse is immediate and last just a few minutes but abusers may often repeat this over several hours to prolong their high.

Commonly abused inhalants include: aerosols, gasoline, spray paint, cleaning products, nail polish remover, glues, markers, cooking spray and more. They are easily purchased, inexpensive items. Inhalant abusers may inhale or sniff fumes from a plastic bag or directly place a chemical-soaked rag into their nose or mouth. Inhalants can be lethal and sniffing high concentrated amounts of chemicals can cause heart failure within minutes, a syndrome known as “sudden sniffing death.” Aspiration, asphyxiation or suffocation can also occur.

According to drugabuse.gov, people tend to abuse different inhalant products at different ages. “New users ages 12-15 most commonly abuse glue, shoe polish, spray paints, gasoline and lighter fluid. New users ages 16-17 most commonly abuse nitrous oxide or whippets. Adults most commonly abuse a class of inhalants known as nitrites or poppers.”

Short-term effects include slurred speech, dizziness, euphoria, nausea or vomiting. Long-term effects may include depression, weight loss, kidney damages, hearing loss, liver damage, lack of coordination, limb spasms, bone marrow damage, brain damage, memory loss, vision and hearing damage, and seizures.

Signs of Inhalant Abuse:

  • Chemical smell on breath or clothing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of coordination
  • Inattentiveness
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Persistent rashes around nose and mouth
  • Confusion or aggression

Treatment Options:

  • 12-Step Program
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group or individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy