“Huffing” or the act of inhaling chemicals into your body from a plastic bag or piece of cloth, gives you a fast high. At the same time, these substances and this form of drug abuse kill you, one puff at a time. Instead of going only to your brain, the inhalants you breathe in damage almost every organ system in your body. If you huff for a long time, you may suffer permanent brain damage – if you aren’t killed first. While the high feels good, you lose your ability to think clearly.
What is Huffing and How Can it Hurt You?
If you huff, you begin by spraying an inhalant onto a piece of cloth or into a plastic bag, then you hold the cloth or bag over your face and nose. Next, you inhale and allow the fumes to enter your body through your lungs. The effect is a quick mental high, according to MedicineNet. In 2010, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated that a majority of inhalant abusers were younger than 18. What is more frightening is that 7 percent of eighth graders admitted to inhalant use in 2011. In that same year, 4.5 percent of 10th graders said they had abused inhalants. Among 12th graders, 3.2 percent admitted they had done so.
These are the long-term effects of huffing:
º Depression and other mood changes.
º Lack of coordination.
º Weight loss.
Serious side effects include:
º Cardiac arrhythmia that leads to cardiac death.
º Aspiration (getting substances into the lungs).
º Permanent brain damage.
Among the parts of your body that can suffer permanent damage are the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and brain. Once you can’t get the same effects from huffing, you may turn to other drugs, such as alcohol, smoking and other drugs.
Effects of Huffing, or Inhalant Abuse
Aerosol sprays, solvents and gases contain chemicals that can all give you a high that makes you look drunk. The drunk feeling soon passes and you feel uninhibited, lightheaded, drowsy and possibly agitated, according to the DrugAbuse.gov website. You may also feel apathetic, as though you don’t care about anything. You suffer from impaired judgment and functioning, which can lead to making poor decisions. You may become nauseated and vomit as well.
If you huff large doses of an inhalant, you may suffer mental confusion and become delirious. You may become lethargic, your speech can be slurred and your reflexes are noticeably slower. You suffer from muscle weakness and stupor.
Once you begin to huff, you may quickly become dependent on this form of substance abuse, especially if you have been inhaling continuously for several days. Most significantly, prolonged use may lead to using other substances.
What are Inhalants?
Inhalants are substances that can be found in any home – including yours. Cleaners, paint, paint thinners, lighters, propane tanks, aerosol sprays, nitrites and even felt-tip marker fluids can be used as inhalants, according to TeensHealth. Here are the four main categories of inhalant substances:
º Gases, which include commercial and household products.
º Volatile solvents – liquids that convert to gases at room temperature.
º Nitrites, called “poppers” or “snappers.”
º Aerosol sprays.
The effects of chemical vapors that have been inhaled are particularly short-lived and dangerous. Because of this, users feel the need to inhale repeatedly to stay high, which greatly increases how many chemicals have built up in the body.
Gasoline is a popular substance for inhalant abusers to use – they become intoxicated. Not only can you become drunk – huffing gas can kill you, according to Alcohol Rehab. Take a look at the effects of inhaling gasoline or petrol:
º Disorientation (you don’t know where you are).
º Euphoria or a feeling of giddiness.
º Hallucinations (your brain fools you into thinking you’re seeing things).
º Slurred speech.
º Slowed reflexes.
º Lack of coordination.
º Dizziness (it’s hitting your brain and slowing oxygen).
º Feeling light.
º Increased libido (you feel more sexual).
º You feel disconnected from those around you.
º Increased friendliness and chattiness.
º Impaired decision-making (poor judgment).
º Muscle weakness.
Have you heard that it’s safer to huff paint than it is to use illegal drugs? You’ve been misinformed because paint-huffing can lead to “Sudden-Inhalation Death,” a syndrome that can happen to even a first-time huffer, according to WiseGeek. Paint interferes with the central nervous system, which controls your heart rate and ability to breathe.
Within the first minute, the paint chemicals enter your brain, leading to confusion and lightheadedness. As you come down from your high, you become very sleepy. You can suffer high blood pressure and your heart rate may become extremely fast. As you withdraw from huffing paint, you may suffer withdrawal symptoms, tremors, insomnia, which is an inability to sleep and even seizures. With long-term use, you can suffer heart, kidney, lung and brain damage. Those who have huffed paint can suffer severe heart damage and decreased brain function (difficulty with concentration and memory problems). You may also lose the ability hear, speak and smell correctly. If you stop using, your addiction may lead to strong urges to use again.
Glue-huffing is just as dangerous as huffing any other inhalants. You get an immediate, euphoric high that may lead to hallucinations. The negative effects include brain, lung and heart damage, as well as issues with your nervous system and hearing loss, according to WiseGeek. Over time, you become dependent and addicted to sniffing glue, which greatly increases your risk of overdose or death.
Short-term side effects include slurred speech, headache, nausea, vision and hearing problems, vomiting and an inability to control the muscles of your body. You may also feel depressed. Over the long term, your brain’s chemistry changes, leading to problems with speech, hearing, concentration and movement.
Huffing freon is dangerous – according to “The Doctors,” more than 2,000 people who sniffed freon went to the emergency room. Because freon is a refrigerant (makes air cold), it can freeze your lungs and lead to a quick high. Someone sniffing freon for the first time can die (Sudden Inhalation Syndrome). Users can also develop psychosis.
Because the high lasts for only a few minutes, users repeatedly huff freon, seeking to extend their highs.
Severe side effects include:
º Difficulty breathing.
º Loss of vision.
º Severe stomach pain, esophageal burns, blood in vomit or stool.
º Irregular heartbeat and collapse of cardiovascular system.
º Brain and nerve damage.
“Duster” is the canned air people use to clean dust and small particles out of their computers and keyboards. These cans of compressed air are actually compressed gas – the gas is liquified. What is in a can of compressed air?
º Difluoroethane or HFC-152a.
º Tetrafluoroethane or HFC-134a.
Both of these chemicals are extremely dangerous, leading to problems in your brain and other organs. Long-term abuse can lead to inattentiveness, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, irritability, liver and kidney damage, depression and nervous system damage. A slide presentation puts it perfectly: “If you huff and puff, you blow your life away,” according to the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force.
Huffing Spray Paint
Spray paint contains some pretty scary ingredients:
º Magnesium Silicate.
º Liquified petroleum gas.
º n-Butyl Acetate.
º Propylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether.
º Methyl Ethyl Ketone.
Mmm, sounds great! Look more closely. All of these are strong chemicals that serve to move the liquid paint from the can to a surface being painted. These chemicals can also lead to serious illness, including cancer, according to Sentry Air Systems. They can also kill you if you sniff them.
º Throat, nose and eye irritation.
º Loss of coordination.
º Liver, central nervous system and kidney damage.
In ways that won’t be described here, people can turn alcohol into a vapor that they inhale or smoke, according to CBSNews. Whether you want a quick high or to be able to drink without gaining weight, this practice is dangerous. What’s the drawback? You get drunker faster. It is more highly concentrated than the alcohol you would just drink, which makes it much easier to overdose.
Also, by huffing alcohol, you don’t allow your body’s natural processes to protect you. Since huffed alcohol doesn’t go into your stomach, you won’t develop the nausea or vomiting that normally tell you that you’ve had too much to drink. Huffing alcohol vapors dries your nasal passages, making it easier for you to develop respiratory infections. It is also rough on your lungs.
Huffing ether is highly dangerous. If you do so, you put yourself at risk of asphyxiation. A University of Missouri Kansas anesthetist huffed ether, which led to pulmonary edema or swelling in his lungs. Pathologists also found frothing, which let them know he had been asphyxiated by the ether.
The ether knocked him out, making it impossible for him to realize his airways were becoming swollen and obstructed, according to Wired.