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Inhalants and Huffing
Drug abuse is on the rise today and most parents and caregivers are aware of the illegal drugs that are used by people of all ages, from adolescents to older adults. We need to stay equally aware of the dangerous chemicals and substances that are in our homes every day. These common products can be found in every home and it really doesn't matter how old you are, there are people in every age group that huff inhalants to get high.
What's An Inhalant?
An Inhalant is a substance that produces mind altering effects when the chemical vapors are inhaled. Some Inhalant abusers refer to inhalants or huffing as gluey, huff, rush, and whippets on the streets.
Products That Are Huffed
There are specific categories that inhalants fall into; these are Volatile solvents, Aerosols, Gases and Nitrates.
Volatile Solvents are liquids that evaporate when they're at room temperature. Some of the volatile solvents include paint thinners, paint removers, degreasers, fluids for dry cleaning, gasoline and lighter fluids. Other solvents that are abused include correction fluids, fluid from felt tip markers, electronic contact cleaners and glues.
Aerosols are sprays that contain solvents and propellants. Aerosols that are huffed include spray paints, hair sprays, deodorant sprays, sprays for fabric protection, computer cleaning aerosol products, and vegetable oil sprays.
Gases can be found in commercial products, household items and medical anesthetics. Gases that are inhaled include butane lighters, propane tanks, whip cream aerosols, whip cream dispensers or whippets, and refrigerant gasses. Medical anesthetics include ether, chloroform, halothane, and laughing gas, which is nitrous oxide.
Nitrites are used mostly for sexual enhancement, when they're marketed for illicit use they can be found in small brown bottles with labels that read video head cleaner, room odorizer, leather cleaner or liquid aroma.
Reasons People Abuse Inhalants
People choose to inhale chemical vapors because they produce psychoactive mind altering effects and feelings. These products are cheap and extremely easy for a person to get. None of these products are illegal either. Usually young people around the ages of 12 to 15 that start experimenting with inhalants and huffing choose glues, shoe polish, spray paints, gasoline and lighter fluids. 16 and 17 year olds commonly huff nitrous oxide or whippets.
How Does a Person Huff Inhalants?
There are various ways a person abuses inhalants but they all involve breathing in the vapors through the mouth or nose. Some people sniff the fumes straight from the container. Sometimes people spray aerosols into their mouth or nose. It's very common for people to use plastic or paper bags when they abuse inhalants. They spray directly into the bag or spray the substance onto a rag, put it in the bag, then inhale the fumes. Huffing is also done by getting a rag soaked with the chemical, putting the rag into their mouth, and breathing in the vapors. Nitrous oxide is sometimes inhaled by filling balloons with the gas first and inhaling it.
Signs a Person is Huffing Inhalants
- There will be chemical smells on their clothing and breath
- Stains on their clothes, face or hands caused from paint or other chemicals
- Empty solvent containers, empty spray paint cans, chemical soiled rags or clothes that are hidden
- The individual appears to be intoxicated or disoriented
- Their speech is slurred and garbled
- Loss of appetite
- Nauseous as well as other signs
Along with other signs above they may be careless, their coordination is off, irritable and depressed.
Dangers Associated With Abusing Inhalants
People just don't realize how dangerous it is inhaling fumes and vapors and unfortunately it's quite common among many young people. When a person abuses inhalants frequently they can cause serious damage to their major organs. The brain, liver, heart, kidney and lungs can be seriously damaged due to huffing toxic vapors and it can lead to death. Most people don't just breathe in the vapors once, during a session they repeat huffing the vapors in several times because the effect of intoxication only last for a few minutes. A session of huffing can last for several hours which can be extremely dangerous. What most people don't realize is that one huffing session changes the rhythm of your heart and they could go into cardiac arrest and die. Huffing also can stop oxygen from getting into the lungs and if you don't get enough oxygen, you can suffocate.
Continual Inhalant Abuse Can Cause
- Nervous system damage
- Brain damage
- Heart, lung, liver, and kidney damage
- Vision and hearing problems
- Cognition and movement problems
- Vomiting then choking
- Fatal injury due to intoxication while driving and accidents
- Heart failure
Today there are more than a thousand products that can be seriously dangerous if inhaled, for more information go to National Inhalant Prevention Coalition.
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