What is huffing?

Huffing has become more popular in the past few years with kids and younger adults; the products needed to get high this way are cheap and legal to buy at any age*. The products needed for huffing are spray paints (silver and gold spray paint is preferred by most users) aerosol whipped cream, model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, fabric protector, gasoline, aerosol dusters, cooking spray and correction fluid just to name a few of the many products that can be use for huffing.

*Some states have put age limits on purchasing spray paint but in most states spray paints are still accessible to young people.

The term “Huffing” is used because the products are put into a plastic bag and huffed or a rag or sock is soaked in the product and then the vapors of the product are huffed or inhaled into the lungs. Often times the vapors are inhaled right out of the container the product comes in.

The effect of this is oxygen is cut off from the brain and the high is achieved. The “high” will only last for a few minutes and the process is repeated to continue to buzz.

The short term effects of huffing:

Within a few seconds of inhalation the user experiences intoxication similar to the effects of alcohol; this may include slurred speech, the inability to coordinate movements, dizziness, and confusion.  Nausea and vomiting are other common side effects.

The long term effects of huffing:

Depression, irritability, disorientation, muscle weakness, inattentiveness, lack of coordination and weight loss are all effects of huffing.  Also the fact that the effects only last for a few minutes the user often times will continue the repeated use for several hours to maintain a long lasting high. This type of use can cause unconsciousness and death.

Death by Dust Off!!

There have been many cases of young people that have died from huffing “Dust off”.  “Dust off” contains Difluoroethane, a fluorinated hydrocarbon, also known as Freon. They are used as propellants, refrigerants and cleaning agents. They are heavier then air and when inhaled they keep air out of the lungs which in turn stops brain and heart functions. In many cases the user was found with the straw from the can of Dust off still in their mouth, eyes open and sitting in an upright position. In these cases death was instant, and in most cases the users were very healthy young people between the ages of 12 and 17. Inhalants are the fourth most abused substances in the United States among eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders; alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana are the top three, according to the Monitoring the Future Study.

Unfortunately, deaths from inhaling Dust-Off have occurred. In a letter dated July 28, 2005, the CEO of Falcon (the manufacturer of Dust-Off), acknowledging the dangers of inhalation abuse, expressed his condolences to family members who have lost loved ones to this problem. By the time adolescents reach the eighth grade; one in five has tried inhalants at least once.  In a recent study, 18 percent of eighth graders, 17 percent of tenth graders and 14 percent of twelfth graders admitted having used inhalants at least once in their lifetime. Statistics showing higher lifetime use among eighth graders may be due to the fact that frequent inhalant abusers typically drop out of school and consequently do not participate in the tenth and twelfth grade surveys.

Signs of Huffing Abuse:

  • Drunk or disoriented appearance
  • Paint or other stains on face, hands, or clothing
  • Hidden empty spray paint or solvent containers and chemical-soaked rags or clothing
  • Slurred speech
  • Strong chemical odors on breath or clothing
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Red or runny nose
  • Sores or rash around the nose or mouth

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report Series, Inhalant Abuse, 10 May 2001.

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