Inhalant, called sniffing or huffing, is when a person intentionally breaths in the gases from common household or industrial products, glue, hair spray or gasoline, as an example, to get high. This can be very harmful and can be sometimes deadly.
Short-term effects of inhalants
When the inhalant is breathed in, it passes into the lungs and bloodstream in a matter of seconds. It goes quickly to the brain, heart, kidneys and liver. Inhalants collect rapidly in the central nervous system and have an almost immediate effect on users, who usually experience a short high that lasts from a few moments to half an hour.
Common reactions during the high phase include:
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- slurred speech
- nausea and drooling
- clumsiness and poor co-ordination
- loss of judgment
- aggressive behavior
- A long downer follows the high. After-effects and signs of inhalant use can include:
- bad breath
- headaches and sensitivity to light
- slowed reflexes
- bloodshot eyes
- loos of appetite
- sores or rashes on the mouth or nose
Long-term effects of sniffing
Most of the long-term effects of repeated sniffing can be reversed once the person stops sniffing, but sometimes it does permanent and very serious damage. The long-term effects include personality changes, decreased mental abilities, blood abnormalities, and damage to the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and nervous system. Repeated use causes toxic chemicals to build up and damage the central nervous system and other organs.Regular inhalant abuse may create psychological and physical dependence. If a user stops suddenly, it could trigger withdrawal symptoms. A long-term user can develop a tolerance to inhalants, needing more and more to get the same effects.
Sniffing inhalants can be fatal
Sniffing can result in death, even after only one use. For example, combining inhalants with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol can be deadly. People who abuse inhalants can also die from:
Sudden Sniffing Death (SSD), which is caused by cardiac arrest due to a severely irregular heartbeat suffocation with a plastic bag used for inhaling choking on vomitIn addition, there is a growing body of research that shows that using inhalants can lead to feelings of depression and raises the risk of suicide.
A person who is high from sniffing risks having an accident caused by not being able to recognize normal dangers, like walking out in traffic or falling down stairs.
The inhalants are explosive and highly flammable and can cause serious burns themselves.
Sniffing during pregnancy
Inhalants are dangerous if they are used while a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding. If a woman sniffs while she’s pregnant, it can cause a miscarriage. It also affects the developing baby and can cause:
• brain damage resulting in behavioral problems and learning delays
• facial and head deformities
• digestive system problems
Source: Canadian Public Health Association