What is huffing? Spray paint cans on the ground

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Do you know what is huffing?

Your kid’s abuse of substances might be closer to home than you think. It might even start earlier than you imagine.

In this article, you’ll find out what huffing is, what its effects are and how the spot the warning signs that your kids are abusing inhalants.

What is Huffing?

Huffing is another term used for inhalant abuse. It could be happening under your nose in your home and is dangerous for your kids.

Inhalant abuse is the inhaling of volatile household products or substances also called inhalants to get high.

What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are substances inhaled through the mouth or nose. Inhalants can be categorised as solvents, aerosol sprays, gases and nitrites. They are typically products found in the house or workplace and may include spray paint, gas, glue, markers, paint thinner, cleaning products and even nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas).

Inhalants are popular among teens because they have a psychoactive effect and they are easy to access. The substances are inhaled by huffing, sniffing, snorting or bagging. The high from the inhaled substances are not long-lasting and users risk overdose through repeated and frequent use. 

Statistics on Huffing

According to a National Survey in America, 21.7 million children aged 12 years old and over have used inhalants in their lifetime. Additionally, research shows that after marijuana, inhalants were the second most widely used drugs for 8th and 10th Graders; and the third most widely used drug for 12th Graders.

Children with family issues, depression and from a disadvantaged background are more likely to abuse inhalants. There was no difference noted between girls and boys who used inhalants. The most common inhalants used by children are glue, shoe polish, toluene, gasoline, lighter fluids and spray paint.

Research also found that inhalant abuse is linked to depression, antisocial behaviour, suicidality and later drug use. Inhalant abuse before 16 years old was a predictor of later heroin use.

What are the Effects of Huffing?

Teenagers typically use inhalants because they are accessible and they underestimate the serious effects of huffing. However, substance abuse like huffing can cause irreversible damage or death to the user. Some of the common serious effects of huffing are:

  1. brain damage
  2. organ damage (liver, kidney, and heart)
  3. lead poisoning
  4. Foetal damage (if done during pregnancy)
  5. Heart attack
  6. Death

How do you know if your child is abusing inhalants?

It is important to pay attention to your kids, their behaviour, attitudes and physical appearance to give you warning signs that they are abusing inhalants. If you suspect your child is huffing, bagging, sniffing or inhaling substances, look for the following signs:

  1. The smell of chemicals on their breath or clothes
  2. Paint or other substance stains on their face, hands and/or clothes.
  3. Hidden empty spray or solvent containers
  4. Hidden rags, clothing or other fabrics soaked with chemicals
  5. They seem drunk or disoriented
  6. They have slurred speech
  7. They are nauseous or have lost their appetite
  8. Changes in their behaviour or concentration, including, irritability, lack of coordination, inattentiveness and/or depression

How to Prevent Inhalant Abuse?

“Prevention is better than cure”. That’s what my grandmother used to say. And this is still very true today, especially, in the case of inhalant abuse. Preventing your kids from using volatile substances could prevent brain damage and death, not to mention on your part, years of worry and heartache. Here are some ways to prevent inhalants abuse:

1. Talk to your kids about the dangers of this practice. Let them know about how the chemicals they are sniffing can affect their brain or health.

2. Keep household products who know that can be used as inhalants out of your children’s reach.

3. Monitor the usage of common household products and not any changes in your kid’s behaviour if you suspect their abuse these products.

4. Seek help and speak to a professional if you suspect that your child is abusing substances.

Final Word on Huffing

Inhalant abuse or huffing is drug abuse. Besides, the potential effects which include organ damage and possible death, huffing can lead to abuse of hard drugs in later life.

If you think your child is abusing inhalants, you must get help as soon as possible. There are many resources available for parents who suspect their children are huffing or sniffing glue or paint.

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