Common household products, such as glues, computer air duster, whipped cream, nutmeg and cough syrup, can produce a high and have deadly consequences for teens.

Teen drug abuse doesn’t just involve illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin. In fact, youth may use household items that get you high and experience dangerous effects just like they would from commonly abused illegal drugs. Some of the most common household items teens use to get high include whipped cream cans, dusters, glues and adhesives, nutmeg and cough syrup. 

Whipped Cream Cans

A whipped cream high may seem unusual, but teens can use this product to achieve a buzz. According to news reports, teens may inhale compressed gas from a canister of whipped cream because the process creates a short-lived high. They may also purchase “Whip-its,” traditionally used to charge whipped cream dispensers, and inhale the nitrous oxide in them to become high. This process can be deadly, as it can block the brain’s oxygen supply and harm the heart. It can also create neurological consequences and result in lasting brain damage. 


Teens and inhalants are a cause for concern, with a national survey showing that 1.6% of 12th graders, 2.4% of 10th graders, and 4.6% of 8th graders have used inhalants in the past year. In addition, 8.7% of 8th graders, 6.5% of 10th graders and 4.4% of 12th graders have used these drugs during their lives.

Air dusters, typically used to clean computer keyboards, are an example of an inhalant that teens may abuse. Teens may huff these products through their mouths to feel a rush. However, computer dust cleaner high can create unpleasant side effects, such as violent outbursts, hallucinations, lack of self-control, nausea and even loss of consciousness. Huffing air dusters can also result in death due to suffocation, choking, trauma, oxygen deprivation or irregular heart rate. 

Glues and Adhesives

Teenage inhalants may also include glues and adhesives that teens sniff to achieve a high. Experts report that teens may begin sniffing glue or adhesives and then progress to huffing or bagging to achieve a stronger high. With huffing, teens soak a cloth with glue and hold it over their mouths, and with bagging, they fill a bag with glue and repeatedly breathe in and out of the bag.

A toxic chemical called toluene is responsible for the high associated with sniffing glue. Toluene activates the brain’s dopamine system, which is associated with pleasure and reward. Toluene creates a high similar to alcohol intoxication and produces effects such as euphoria and excitement, eventually leading to psychological dependence with continued use. Large doses can also cause hallucinations, delusions and a feeling of disorientation. Over time, glue sniffing can damage major organs, such as the heart, brain and kidneys. 


It is also possible for teens to achieve a nutmeg high at home. One case study involved a 13-year-old girl who put nutmeg inside gelatin capsules and was seen in an emergency room after she exhibited bizarre behavior and experienced hallucinations, nausea, gagging and blurred vision. Experts report that these effects associated with nutmeg are likely a result of the body-transforming chemicals in nutmeg into compounds similar to stimulant drugs like amphetamines.

Cough Syrup

Cough syrup abuse can be a concern among teens. According to Stanford Children’s Health, cough syrup often contains a chemical called dextromethorphan (DXM), which can cause hallucinations and altered perceptions in high doses. DXM can make teens feel as if they have left their own bodies and produce dangerous side effects like panic attacks, seizures, paranoia, and elevated blood pressure. Continued abuse of high amounts of DXM cough syrup can result in psychosis.

Teens may also abuse prescription cough medicines that contain codeine and promethazine by mixing them with soda. According to experts, teens drinking cough syrup in this form may have been inspired by musical artists who have glorified this process.

Teens can become addicted to cough syrups and other household products with continued use. The risks of addiction can be especially strong with items that can be obtained at home since it is so easy for teens to access them.

If your teen is demonstrating signs of teen drug abuse and you suspect he or she is using household items to obtain a high, teen drug rehab may be necessary. Signs such as changes in behavior, poor grades, lack of interest in previous activities, mood swings and withdrawing from friends and family may indicate that your teen is in need of treatment. If treatment is necessary, The Recovery Village has locations around the country to meet your family’s needs. Contact a representative today to obtain additional information. 

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

Ross, Brian; Chuchmach, Megan. “Dangerous teen craze Whip-its making a comeback?ABC News, March 27, 2012. Accessed August 19, 2019.

The University of Michigan. “National adolescent drug trends press release: Text & tables.” Accessed August 19, 2019.

Tulsidas, Haresh. “Glue sniffing: A review.” Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare, 2010. Accessed August 19, 2019.

Sangalli, Bernard; Chiang, William. “Toxicology of nutmeg abuse.” Journal of Toxicology, February 2000. Accessed August 19, 2019.

Stanford Children’s Health. “Cough medicine abuse by teens.” 2019. Accessed August 19, 2019.

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.