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Parents Want to Know: What Is Huffing?

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT Meet The Team >

Huffing is a method teens use to inhale substances recreationally. Teens huff inhalants, such as aerosol bottles of air freshener or deodorants, by spraying them into a towel and then pressing the towel to the nose or mouth. They then inhale the concentrated fumes to achieve a short-term high.

Parents need to know this fact:

Huffing inhalants is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.

The statistics on adolescent huffing are disturbing.

According to the 2019 Monitoring the Future study, about ten percent of eight graders say they’ve huffed a household item at least once in their life.

Below are some common household inhalants that teens sniff or huff (this list is not complete):

  • Air freshener bottles (a.k.a. Glading, after the popular brand name Glade)
  • Hair sprays
  • Deodorant
  • Whipped cream cans
  • Helium-filled balloons
  • Paints (including spray paint and paint thinners)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Glue
  • Lighter fuel

Inhaling any of these products is dangerous. Parents who find evidence of teens huffing these products should take action immediately.

Dangers of Huffing

Huffing has many dangerous physical and mental consequences.

Physical dangers of huffing include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Respiratory complications
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Limb spasms
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of smell
  • Peripheral nervous system damage
  • Suffocation
  • Paralysis
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heart failure
  • Death (Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome)

Psychological effects of huffing:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Violent outbursts
  • Aggression
  • Altered consciousness
  • Short-term intoxication

What to Do if Your Teen is Huffing Household Substances

We’ll repeat: huffing is very dangerous.

If your adolescent is huffing or sniffing any type of toxic chemical or household substances, bring them in for an assessment at a drug rehab center for teens immediately.

Inhalant abuse is no joke – not even when it’s done once or twice due to peer pressure or a dare.

Teens can die from huffing just once.

Research shows that inhalants are often a gateway drug. Teens who start out sniffing everyday household products often will continue on to more serious illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine if they don’t receive substance abuse treatment. At an adolescent drug rehab center, your teen will achieve recovery from their addictive behavior as well as treatment for the roots of their unhealthy behavior.

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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