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Inhalants are products that are found in and around the home that are commonly abused by young teens and adolescents. The user sniffs or inhales these substances in order to get high, resulting in addiction and risky behavior that can prove to be deadly.

Types of Inhalants

Inhalants come in many shapes and sizes. They are common items that young people can easily get their hands on in their own home, such as spray paint, markers, cleaning supplies, and glue. These young people breathe in the fumes from the products quickly, called huffing, which leads to a high just like a drug addict experiences when taking their drugs. The high from inhalants often lasts just a few minutes, causing the user to crave more and to sometimes huff again in a short period of time.

Inhalant Abuse

Inhalants can be abused by anyone of any age, but are more commonly used by younger adolescents. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalants are only class of substance abused more by younger than by older teens. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey reveals that 13.1 percent of 8th-graders have ever used inhalants, compared to 8.7 percent of 10th graders, and 6.9 percent of 12th graders. Younger teens are more likely to use inhalants because they usually don’t have prior drug experience, and they mistakenly believe that huffing is not a dangerous activity because it uses common, everyday products. It is also possible that huffing serves as a gateway that leads young people to try different, harder drugs like prescription medications and street drugs.

Dangers of Inhalant Abuse

Regardless of how easily a user can find substances to inhale, this type of activity is dangerous, and it is addicting. When a person huffs, the chemicals travel quickly to the brain, causing damage there. The result can be interruption of the nerves that transmit messages to the nervous system, and a lack of oxygen being delivered to the brain. Individuals that huff often experience nausea and vomiting, and over time may suffer from liver and kidney damage.

A major risk to those who inhale household products is sudden sniffing death. This syndrome happens when high concentrations of the chemicals travel to the brain, causing sudden heart failure. Other causes of death with huffing are also possible, including suffocation and respiratory distress. Death can occur even on the person’s first attempt at huffing, putting everyone at risk who tries this activity.

Treatment and Prevention

The best way to combat inhalant abuse is to prevent it from starting in the first place. Because the most common age for young people to start experimenting with inhalants is in or before 8th grade, it is important for parents and teachers to talk to kids about the dangers of this activity.

Treatment is available for those who cannot stop huffing, or who have transitioned to other drugs. Contact My Recovery Helper to learn more about this dangerous activity, and to find treatment for it.