What is Huffing?

Huffing is a term used to describe the behavior of inhaling the fumes of many household products in order to get high. Aerosol cans, such as computer dusters like Dust-Off, spray paint, paint thinner, canned paint, glue or markers are among the many different products that people inhale to get high. It’s a dangerous practice that has many risks of serious side effects and damage to the body, both short-term and long-term.

There are a few different ways that people use these products to get high. Sniffing is the act of spraying or inhaling the fumes of products directly from their containers. Huffing means using a rag or other piece of cloth material, soaking it in the substance and then holding it over one’s mouth and nose and breathing it in. Bagging refers to filling a plastic bag with paint or other materials and inhaling it from the container, either by holding the open end of the bag up to one’s face or actually putting the entire bag over one’s head.

Why Are People Huffing?

Huffing spray paint and other household products is popular mostly due to the ease of access of these substances, especially for adolescents and teens who live at home. There are dozens of products that can be used to get the desired effects and they are not scheduled as controlled substances. They are either already available at home or can easily be purchased at a department, convenience or home improvement store.

 Most people learn how to huff paint and other products during their adolescent or teen years. Teenagers usually learn about how to huff paint from their friends or by watching videos on Facebook, YouTube or other social media outlets. It has become more and more common to watch videos of friends filming each other huffing paint and other inhalants. The laughter and encouragement of peers is typically heard in the background. Some young people are interested in experimenting with drugs, and when they learn how to huff they may start with various products that are available in the home.

The Dangers of Huffing

The effects of huffing are felt almost immediately. People who abuse these chemicals will enter a disoriented state, with a steep drop in motor function, slurred speech and dizziness. Beyond the initial high, the heart starts to beat at an increased or irregular rate due to the lack of oxygen that results from inhaling the chemicals. When chemicals are inhaled through the nose, they can pass right through the sinuses and immediately impact the brain. The dangers of huffing are extreme -a single huffing session can lead to a fatal overdose.

Signs and Symptoms

If you think your teen or someone else you know may be huffing spray paint or other products, look out for warning signs. Pay attention to their behavior. People who are chronically huffing may become lethargic, have severe mood swings, develop burns and rashes on their face and smell like chemicals. They might start missing school and their grades may start to drop. Withdrawing from social activities and displaying signs of depression or paranoia are also signs that they might be abusing inhalants or other drugs.

Treatment Options

Getting help for your loved one is very important. Research behavioral help and drug treatment centers. Depending on the severity of addiction, you may want your loved one to stay at an inpatient treatment center where they can be monitored and learn how to live drug-free in a safe, controlled environment. Outpatient treatment, individual therapy, group therapy and counseling are also options. Abusing inhalants is a serious problem with very real health risks. Getting help and support as soon as possible should be your top priority.

Medical Disclaimer

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.