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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. Who Answers?
Reseources & References
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I huffed several different things, with a particular affinity for WD-40, gasoline, and paint for nearly a year until I finally quit. I've slipped a few times since then, but have generally moved on to a healthier lifestyle. Ever since I quit, however, I've been thinking and wondering about inhalants in general--How much have I been affected, if at all? If I have sustained brain damage or liver damage or anything of the like, what can I do about it? Just wondering if certain tics or physical abnormalities stem from inhalant-induced brain damage or not. But, that is beside my point. A bigger question has formulated: What can we do about this?
When I was 17 I found a new addiction. I started to use inhalants as a way to get a quick high. This was something my friends where doing and was super easy to fall into. Once I started I couldn't stop. I was looking in every cabinet at every person's home that I visited. It was embarrassing how much I was looking toward inhalants to get me through my day. I stopped caring about school and sports. My family didn't know what was going on and I hid it pretty well. I would tell my parents I was going to school and they wouldn't find out I wasn't for some time. I spent the day with friends hanging out in abandoned warehouses using inhalants.
I finally got found out when I landed myself in the hospital. Something I had inhaled was too much for my body to handle and I almost died. This time in the hospital gave me time to see what I was doing to myself and my family. It was frightening how much I had changed within a year and I needed help to stop. My parents were supportive but I needed help from professionals. I was lucky to get the help I needed. Every day is a struggle and it is impossible to tell how tomorrow will go, but I have the strength because of the help I got and the support of my family. Now I look forward to the next day and then the next.
I can't imagine where my life would be if I hadn't gotten help for my addiction to inhalants. I was using everything you can think of and even things normal people would never think of to try and get a high. I lost myself in the need for the high, the search for the high and the high itself. I couldn't imagine stopping and saw no reason to. After doing this for over five years my body began to break down. I was basically poisoning myself and my heart couldn't take it anymore. At 24 I had a heart attack and nearly died. You would think that would stop me from doing this terrible thing to myself again and again. It didn't stop me at all. I started using inhalants as soon as I was out of the hospital. It wasn't until I nearly killed someone else that it hit me I needed to change and gave me the drive to do it.
While in a haze from my high I set my house on fire. My family nearly didn't make it out and I almost lost it all. I finally got some help and a rehab center got me started. It didn't end there and I am challenged every day to stay clean and away from the abusive behavior. It is hard to stop when you are surrounded by every day products that can be used as an inhalant to get a high. Staying clear of these items is not realistic in a day to day life so I have learned how to fight the triggers.
Nice post which 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. Thanks a lot for posting.