Inhalants are the popular drug of choice for younger teens. 21% of eighth grade students report they have used inhalants.
Inhalants are substances that are sniffed (called “huffing”) to give the user an immediate rush or high. They include a diverse group of chemicals found in consumer products such as aerosol sprays and cleaning solvents. The typical American household contains up to 1,400 chemicals that can be abused as inhalants, giving users easy and affordable access. Inhalant paraphernalia may include aerosol sprays, solvents, white-out, glue, empty cans, paint stained rags, paper or plastic sacs, magic markers and many more common household items.
Even one-time use of inhalants can result in death. Death can occur in at least five ways:
- Asphyxia – solvent gases can significantly limit oxygen and cause breathing to stop
- Suffocation – typically with inhalant users who use bags
- Choking on vomit
- Careless behaviors in potentially dangerous situations
- Sudden sniffing death syndrome – caused by cardiac arrest
Huffing or sniffing most commonly occurs at home, between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. while parents are busy tending to other matters. The duration of intoxication is generally around two hours.
Possible effects of inhalants include:
- Headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, abdominal pain
- Chemical odor to breath, breathing difficulty
- Decrease or loss of sense of smell
- Nausea, nosebleeds, sneezing, coughing
- Fatigue, lack of coordination, loss of appetite
- Irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations
- Visual hallucination and severe mood swings
- Involuntary passing of urine or feces
- Irreversible brain damage, nervous system damage
- Violent behaviors, disorientation, unconsciousness
- Sudden death
Lois offers help and hope for individuals and families affected by substance abuse.
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