Inhalant abuse: When common household substances become life threatening
A dangerous trend exists among adolescents, involving the inhalation of common household products. Because these items are easily acquired and accessed, many young people mistakenly assume that inhaling them does not constitute substance abuse. But that is a misunderstanding that can have serious and even fatal consequences.
Inhalants are breathable, chemical vapors that can produce mental alterations. They are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases produced from the liquid or solid state of natural substances. Inhalant abuse refers to the sniffing of these common household and office products to get “high.” Recognizing inhalant abuse and seeking treatment is vital so that both mental and physical health can be restored.
What are inhalants?
Common inhalants include permanent markers, paint and spray paint, household cleaning supplies, glue, air freshener, gasoline, cooking spray, nail polish remover, whip cream canisters and thousands of other products. These substances are legal and can be purchased at local drug stores, home stores and grocery stores and, as a result, are widely accessible.
Common names for inhalant use to get high are huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging. Often, a wash cloth, shirt sleeve or some sort of cloth is soaked with the inhalant, and the substance is then placed close to the face and inhaled. Sometimes paper or plastic bags are used with the inhalant. Sniffing refers to inhaling through the nose directly from the substance container.