Huffing is the process by which certain chemicals are inhaled – and, thus, abused – for the purpose of getting high. Huffing may be done in any of a number of ways, including: inhaling from balloons, spraying the chemical into a plastic bag, or spraying the chemical directly into the mouth. Inhalant abuse is without a doubt one of the more dangerous forays into the world of drug abuse that an individual can embark upon, and the reasons for this are many. However, the most indisputable reason pointing to the hazards associated with inhaling toxic fumes recreationally lay in the products – notice how we didn’t say drugs – that are being abused and the ease with which they can be procured.

In fact, all you really have to do is take a walk down a supermarket, hardware store, or office supply store aisle and take your pick.

Huffing Everyday Household Items

Some of the more common household items that a loved one may be huffing may surprise you:

  • Industrial glue
  • Nail polish remover
  • Gasoline
  • Computer-cleaning duster
  • Spray paint
  • Bleach
  • Cooking spray
  • Freon (air conditioner fluid)
  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Felt-tip markers
  • Whipped cream

These are items sitting in your garage, under your sink, in your refrigerator. These are items that you use to clean, to beautify your home, to beautify yourself, to treat your loved ones on a hot summer day. These are items that you can pick up when you take a trip to the store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Worst of all, many of these items can be purchased by your kids, too.

And research proves that their doing so is a bigger possibility than you may realize.

The data shows inhalant abuse is most common among teens in grades seven through nine. While this may, in large part, be attributable to the ease with which a child can walk into a store and buy whipped cream with nothing but the change in his pocket, a more disturbing reality may be at play: “nearly 66 percent of 8th graders don’t think trying inhalants once or twice is risky and 41 percent don’t consider the regular use of inhalants to be harmful.” Children – and maybe even their parents – just don’t seem to understand how dangerous huffing truly is.

Effects of Huffing Inhalants

Despite persistent ignorance to their dangerous nature, the effects of huffing are many. In fact, inhalants can kill instantly regardless of any previous use. “Sudden sniffing death” – characterized by an immediate slip into cardiac arrest – is the most common cause of death stemming from huffing.

Some of the other effects of inhalants are:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Delusions
  • Withdrawal

Despite their often kitschy marketing, the inhalants in your home may pose a serious risk to you and your family! Take care to notice any sudden usage and/or disappearance of those household items that may be huffed. Approach the situation cautiously and enlist the aid of a drug and alcohol counselor or drug addiction treatment center with a proven track record of teenage substance abuse treatment. While inhalants are not addictive in the way that heroin or crack cocaine may be, their abuse may point to an underlying dual diagnosis, and the ease with which they end a life requires immediate attention.