Sniffing inhalants and aerosols, also known as “taking whippets” or “huffing,” is an inexpensive, albeit a lesser-known form of substance abuse. Products easily found at home or at the workplace, inhalants refer to various substances that people take only be inhaling. These substances include gases, solvents, aerosol sprays and nitrites. Mostly used by young children and teenagers, inhalants contain dangerous substances with psychoactive properties. While the “high” usually lasts for a couple of minutes, people often inhale them over and over again, over several hours, to make the effects last.
Although inhalant abuse has historically been more common in men, its use among women has skyrocketed in the past decade and its effects can affect women and their babies. A women-only rehab center, Sovereign Health of Arizona provides holistic, evidence-based treatment for inhalant abuse that combines inhalant detox treatment along with behavioral therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Often the cheapest and most readily available means of getting high, inhalants starve the body of oxygen producing that temporary high. Considered one of the most obvious forms of abuse, an individual misusing inhalants can have a drunken appearance, slurred speech and become disoriented. In 2016, approximately 600,000 people aged 12 or older with 0.6 percent of adolescents, 0.4 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25, and 0.2 percent of adults aged 26 or older were current users of inhalants.
Individuals using inhalants breathe them in through the mouth or nose in various ways. Following are the ways in which people abuse inhalants.
- “Sniffing” refers to inhaling the chemical vapors directly from open containers.
- Breathing the fumes from rags soaked in chemicals is called “huffing.”
- Some inhalant abusers spray the substance directly into the nose or mouth, or even pour it onto their collar, sleeves or cuffs and sniff them periodically.
- “Bagging” refers to the user inhaling substance fumes from inside a paper or plastic bag. Bagging in a closed area exacerbates the chances of suffocation.
Following are some of the most commonly abused inhalants.
- DIY project supplies such as wood varnishes, paint thinner and lacquer.
- Stationery supplies that include glues, whiteout and felt-tip markers.
- Cleaning supplies like aerosol air fresheners, keyboard dusters and deodorizers.
- Aerosol-can cooking supplies including whipped cream and nonstick spray.
- Art supplies like ink, paints and rubber cement.
- Shoe polish.
- Beauty supplies such as nail polish/remover, deodorants and hairspray.
- Automotive supplies, including gasoline, brake fluid, lubricants and refrigerants.