A popular trend among preteens and teens, inhaling canned air – informally known as “huffing” – has become a quick, effective and easily accessible method of experiencing a high without purchasing or using actual drugs. The chemicals found in canned air have a similar effect in the brain as alcohol, impacting the nervous system and slowing the processes of the brain. Unfortunately, inhalants are becoming a rising problems among young people as they are easily obtained in the form of common household products.
What is huffing?
Huffing is inhaling the chemical fumes from household items – anything from glue to aerosols to paint – that can provide a sensational high. Huffing canned air is a frequently used method of intoxication.
Canned air, also known as air duster, is used to clean computers and other equipment that’s sensitive to liquid. The pressurized blast that comes out is invisible and odorless, so most people assume it’s just air. However, the air actually contains liquefied gas made up either tetrafluoroethane or difluoroethane.
Huffing is dangerous because inhaling these chemicals causes extreme damage to the body and can quickly put your life at risk. When you inhale or “huff” canned air, the chemicals are absorbed right into the lungs and sent throughout the body. It brings a quick high that feels similar to being drunk, possibly even causing feelings of euphoria. Lightheadedness and confusion are other common side effects. These effects may resolve quickly as the chemicals leave the body quickly – other chemicals, however, may stay in one’s system longer, causing more damage over time.
Because the effects do often disappear so quickly, users are often tempted to do it repeatedly. Each time a person inhales canned air, though, they are putting themselves at risk in many different ways.
The effects of huffing
Like any synthetic substance, the effects of huffing are both long and short term, and do more harm than may be known even after one incident. Even though the immediate effects of huffing are similar to those of consuming alcohol, the long term effects are much more severe and damaging on the body.
Short term effects include:
Lack of coordination or loss of control over bodily movement;
Slurred or slowed speech;
Hallucinations or delusions;
A sense of increased confidence/reduction of self-consciousness;
Long term effects of huffing may cause:
Brain damage (as oxygen flow to the brain is impacted by inhaled chemicals);
Nerve damage, including coordination loss and spasms;
Damage to bone marrow;
Delays in behavioral development, especially if inhalants are abused at a young age;
Liver and kidney disease.
In addition, there may be severe, sudden effects of huffing, including seizures from the sudden dose of chemicals to the brain, and even heart attack. ‘Sudden sniffing death’ has also been known to occur in users who attempt inhalants for the first time – because of chemical reactions in the body’s system, the body goes into shock and the individual passes away suddenly. When an overdose from inhalants occur, first responders first treat the symptom – such as working to jump start the heart or stop/calm a seizure – before addressing the issue of inhalants themselves.
Can I get addicted to inhalants?
Any substance use can slowly turn into an addiction if left unattended. While addiction to inhalants is not very common, it can lead to addictions of other kinds, especially if one becomes addicted to the potentially euphoric feeling of inhalants, or turns to substances as a form of coping with stress or another mental health illness.
Because inhalant abuse, especially huffing canned air, is common among younger people, it’s especially important to be aware of the risk and the presence of inhalants in your own home. If possible (and if appropriate), have a discussion with your family about inhalant abuse, including the health ramifications and the potential for abuse and addiction. Keep inhalants stored safely and minimize their presence in the home as much as possible.
Treatment for inhalant abuse
Those who struggle with inhalant abuse can find relief in behavioral therapy techniques, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which guides them away from the thought processes that lead to substance use and towards healthy coping mechanisms, new perspectives and overall healthy methods of living.
If you are seeking treatment for substance use, or have a loved one in need of treatment, contact Freedom Detox today. With personalized treatment plans and individualized goals, you’ll find yourself on the road to achievable and sustained recovery. Visit our website anytime or give us a call at (704) 486-5488 to learn more.
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