Air duster is a household item, also called canned air. Air duster is used to clean electronics such as computers that can’t be cleaned with water. Despite the name, air duster isn’t actually air. Instead, air duster contains toxic liquids that then become gases when someone pushes the trigger of the spray can. Air duster misuse is a significant problem, especially among adolescents and teens.
Air duster can be inhaled. When someone inhales the gases, they displace the oxygen in their brain and the carbon dioxide in their lungs. The result is a euphoric high that people find desirable. Lasting only around 15 to 30 minutes, an air duster high can also include relaxation, hallucinations and delusions. Other symptoms of inhaling air duster can include loss of inhibition and judgment, impaired decision-making, slurred speech and dizziness. Some people also experience temporary paralysis.
Air duster is incredibly dangerous when used as an inhalant, despite how widely available and inexpensive it is. Misusing any inhalant including air duster can lead to something called sudden sniffing death. Even after trying air duster only once, sudden sniffing death means someone dies of a heart attack or heart failure. Over time, the side effects of long-term air duster can be similarly severe. For example, brain damage is one of the top long-term effects of air duster misuse. Also possible are organ damage, damage to the entire central nervous system and psychological issues. Vision and hearing problems can occur, the brain stem can show signs of dysfunction and bone marrow can become damaged. Also possible with air duster misuse are addiction and dependence. Despite the dire consequences of air duster misuse, it continues to be something people experiment with and, in particular, middle and high school-aged young people.
Along with inhalants, alcohol is also something frequently misused by young people. Alcohol tends to be somewhat easy to get, despite age limits. The combination of mixing alcohol and air duster could be one that young people experiment with. The risks of doing so make both substances even more dangerous and deadly than they are on their own. Both alcohol and air duster are central nervous system depressants. Someone who combines two CNS depressants can suffer from an overdose, brain damage or a heart-related issue. If someone is drinking alcohol, their judgment is already likely impaired. That could lead them to use inhalants in an even more dangerous way than they would otherwise. This also increases the chance of a person putting themselves in a dangerous situation. Signs of mixing alcohol and air duster or other inhalants can include:
- Slurred speech
- Slow movements
- Lack of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Erratic behavior or violent mood swings
- Short-term memory loss or blackouts
Long-term use of alcohol and air duster can cause liver and kidney damage as well as loss of vision and hearing. Even when used without alcohol, inhalants can cause long-term psychosis. That is something else that is more likely to occur with the use of alcohol. Someone who mixes alcohol and air duster may lose consciousness and choke on vomit or slip into a coma. With chronic use of alcohol and air duster, a person’s brain mass is diminished, and their cognitive function can permanently decline.
Inhaling air duster is one of the most dangerous things a person can do. Those dangers are compounded when alcohol is introduced into the mix. The side effects and interactions of mixing alcohol and air duster range from hallucinations and violent, erratic behavior, to ongoing psychosis, severe brain damage or sudden death. Also possible when mixing alcohol and air duster is damage to the cardiac, respiratory and central nervous system. Someone who is regularly misusing alcohol and air duster may have an addiction and dependence to both substances. If this is the case, a professional treatment program is likely the best option. When someone has simultaneous addictions, they need a specialized detox and treatment program to address the elements and complexities of both substances.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.