Huffing is not a joke

  • Published
  • By Gwendolyn Turner
  • Drug Demand Reduction
Huffing, a street term used for the deliberate inhalation or sniffing of common household products to obtain a "high" feeling, is not a joke. 

Usually, parents are not aware many youngsters who sniff inhalants generally start while they're in grade school. 

Their friends tell them these substances can't hurt them. As these youngsters get hooked, it will be tough for them to break the habit. 

Children do not realize sniffing can severely damage many parts of the body, including the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. Even worse, victims can die suddenly and sometimes without warning. 

This is called "Sudden Sniffing Death," which can occur during or right after sniffing. What happens is the heart begins to overwork, then beats rapidly and unevenly, which then leads to cardiac arrest. 

First-time abusers have been known to die from sniffing inhalants. An individual, who is an inhalant abuser, looks drunk and dazed, and an unusual or chemical odor emanates from their clothing and breath. Huffers have slurred or disoriented speech, and signs of paint or other products can be seen on their face or fingers. 

These individuals also have reddish or runny eyes and nose, and exhibit spots and sores around the mouth. Chronic inhalant abusers may exhibit symptoms such as anxiety, excitability, irritability or restlessness. 

One of the most important steps parents can take to prevent inhalant abuse is to talk with their children about inhalant abuse and its effects on the body. 

Discussing this problem openly and stressing the devastating consequences of inhalant use can help prevent a tragedy.