Signs and Symptoms of Huffing
It’s very normal for a parent to fear that a child will fall into drug use or alcohol addiction. While it’s common to take measures to ensure illegal drugs and heavy drinking are off limits, many parents are unaware how dangerous the chemicals already in their homes can actually be.
In this article we’ll give you the scoop on inhalants and huffing— what huffing means, the physical signs of huffing and how you can spot inhalant abuse.
What is huffing and why is it an issue?
Inhalants are a category of drug that includes solvents or other materials that produce chemical vapors. Inhalants are common household, industrial or medical products and are breathed in through the nose or mouth. Huffing specifically is when someone inhales chemicals by breathing through a substance-soaked cloth.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the term “inhalant” covers a wide variety of substances— literally hundreds of substances could qualify as inhalants. Unique pharmacology effects occur with each product. Generally, though, these chemicals result in a high.
This euphoric effect sets on quickly and is often compared to alcohol intoxication, with initial elation and later impaired inhibition. Inhalants are often subdivided into four categories: volatile solvents, aerosols, gasses and nitrates.
Paint thinner, household cleaners, lighter fluid, glue and other common chemicals can be dangerous to the body and brain. Huffing inhalants is dangerous for many reasons. Here are the top reasons why.
It’s most common among adolescents
An article in the journal American Family Physician states that surveys report around 20 percent of children in middle and high school have experimented with huffing. These are critical formative years for neurological maturation. Brain development can be impacted by these drugs.
They’re easy to obtain
Perhaps inhalant use is so common among younger people because they’re easy to obtain. These substances are often already in homes. The majority of these chemicals can also be purchased without restriction and are relatively cheap.
They can lead to increased drug use
A study in the Journal of Substance Abuse found that people who reported using inhalants before the age of 18 was indicative of an increased risk for binge drinking, smoking, illicit drug use and consequences related to substance use during college.
They can cause severe reactions
Signs and symptoms of huffing include short-term reactions like nausea, vomiting, decreased inhibition, lethargy, dizziness, muscle weakness and more. Huffing can also result in unconsciousness and addiction.
What are physical signs of huffing?
If you are worried that your child or someone you know has an inhalant problem, there are many signs of huffing abuse that you’ll want to know. Be sure to look out for the following:
- Chemical odors
- Signs of products like stains or residue
- Empty containers
- Acting paranoid or secretive
- Feeling irritable, frustrated, stressed or angry
- Easily becoming defensive when asked about huffing or drug use
- Appearing drunk or confused
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep
- Clumsy behavior
- Self-isolating for hours at a time
- Using, borrowing or stealing money to buy chemicals
- Missing household or medical products
- Increased interest in drugs or alcohol
- Red eyes
- Runny nose
- Sores on the face
- Increased heart rate
One common potential side effect of huffing is unconsciousness. This occurs because inhalants result in anesthesia, or a loss of sensation. If someone who uses inhalants shows signs of rapidly decreasing activity or collapses, call for emergency help.
It’s likely that inhalant abuse, like abuse of any substance, will interfere with mental well-being. The physical effects compiled with a building addiction can start to take away a person’s control of his or her own emotions. It can result in plenty of frustration, anxiety, depression, loneliness and more.
This list of signs and symptoms of huffing is by no means exhaustive. Due to the extensive variety of inhalant chemicals that can be abused means that the effects will vary widely.
If you or a loved one is struggling with huffing abuse, it’s time to reach out for help. Get the compassionate care you’ve been looking for with Freedom Detox. A personalized treatment plan and a whole-person approach will be the key to your recovery. Get in touch today.