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Huffing: The Fatal Consequences of Ignorance

Huffing: The Fatal Consequences of Ignorance

Children have been warned to “just say no to drugs” and told the dangers of illegal substance abuse, but more kids are getting high by huffing legal substances than by marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens combined. And they are often doing right in their own homes.

The aerosol cleaner used to clean your computer, hairspray, paint solvents, gasoline, and that old standby, glue, can all be inhaled (huffed) to get a high. Kids have been taking advantage of this method of getting high for generations because it’s accessible, the price is right, and it is fairly easy to avoid arousing suspicion. Yet, many are still unaware of the serious health risks.

A report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that almost seven percent of 12 year-olds report sniffing inhalants. In contrast, only 1.4 percent admit using marijuana, 0.7 percent hallucinogens, and 0.1 percent cocaine.

The primary age group of inhalant abusers is 12 – 17. These adolescents often live by the “it’ll never happen to me” theory and greatly underestimate the dangers of huffing. Because the high is short-lived, abusers may engage in repeated huffing over a span of several hours at a time.

Inhalants give a brief feeling of pleasure or euphoria similar to alcohol intoxication, and some may contain anesthetic agents. It is particularly attractive to children because it is an inexpensive high with easy access.

There are likely hundreds of products in your home right now that can be used for huffing, including solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrates. Additional information and specifics about products and ingredients used for huffing may be found at the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Effects of huffing include dizziness, confusion, lack of coordination, slurred speech, delusions, headache, and nausea. The practice can also cause brain impairment and cardiac arrest. Damage to the central nervous system, brain, liver, or kidneys can be irreversible. Death can occur quickly, and even upon the first instance of huffing.

Huffing is highly addictive and adults who use inhalants generally initiated usage during adolescence. Because of the highly addictive nature of huffing, substance abuse counseling may be required.

Signs of huffing in adolescents are sometimes difficult to spot. Hidden containers; chemical odors on breath and clothing; paint or other stains on clothing, hands, or face; loss of appetite; weight loss; weakness; disorientation; irritability; and depression are common.

Children may be under the misguided impression that because a product is used around the house that it is safe. It’s never too early to teach children about the dangers of substance abuse, and any such discussions should include the very real pitfalls of huffing. The consequences of ignorance can be fatal.

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Photo: drugabuse.gov



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108 comments

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4:00PM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Huffing is serious problem for our generation. Say "NO" to drugs!!!

8:37AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

teach them about having respect and compassion with the rest of humanity. Again, let's wake up people, our youth are supposed to be our future, now that's SCARY. Let's get our heads out of the sand and start to put our foot down before it's too late. Thank you and may God Bless PS: Sorry about that, Folks, don't know what happened with my computer that I sent the first part of this comment so many times, but if this letter helps at least one person, it was worth writing it.....

8:13AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by their own Parents. And, what are we giving our children? Cell phones, Ipods, computers, laptops, TV's, cars, anything that makes them happy, BUT, what are they giving us in return? Nothing but back talk ; They are growing up doing whatever they feel like doing, they are disrespectful with their Parents and their elders. They don't give a hoot about anybody except themselves; their language is horrendous, every other word they use is the "F" word, they treat their Parents like crap.... We, as Parents, just give in to whatever they want to get them off our hair, and don't stop to think that we are raising little monsters, and guess what they are going to become when they become adults. Yes, you guessed it, don't get me wrong, there are some exceptions, there are some nice kids around but we must admit that there are more "spoiled" kids than we want to admit. Also, this constant spending the night at their friends' house really makes me very uncomfortable. I have 4 Grandsons (one is 2 1/2 months,) and if I was their Mom instead of their Grandmother, you better believe that they wouldn't have a computer, phone, and TV in their rooms and if they didn't like it, I would show them where the door was. Instead of giving them so many material things, why don't we give them more love, more understanding, more of our time, and teach them about having respect and compassion with the rest of h

8:01AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

8:00AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

8:00AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

8:00AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

8:00AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

7:59AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

7:59AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

This is a wonderful article and you are so right about our youth getting high on these aerosol products among other drugs. I have met several "men" in AA meetings that have ended up with a "wet brain" because they have been huffing since they were 12 or 13. It is scary for many reasons; Many kids are too immature to realize that this huffing can affect their brain and the rest of their body for the rest of their lives. I also need to comment on those millions of Parents, Grandparents and such that are in denial about their kids and their grandkids; I hear it all the time, "my kids would never do that," "my kids don't cuss, drink, smoke, do drugs, etc," in other words they are perfect in their eyes; and we all know that nobody is perfect. Listen people, open your eyes, they might not do it in front of you but there's a very good chance that they are doing it out in the street, at their friends' house, in their own room especially if there's no supervision at home, and we can't deny that most of us (including me) are so wrapped up in our own problems to even think of what our children are doing. We feel content that as long as our children are in their room, they are Ok. WRONG!!! There's no such thing as giving them their "privacy" anymore, we have the responsibility of going through all their things to make sure that they are staying out of trouble. In most homes, both of the Parents feel that they have to work so they can give their children what was not given to them by thei

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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