The dangers of huffing paint, glue, solvent, aerosol gas, and other toxic substances seem to be more evident now. The autopsy of former singer Aaron Carter was released by the Associated Press and it states that his cause of death was accidental drowning due to having Alprazolam (the generic name for Xanax) and Difluoroethane (a commonly-abused substance found in some aerosol sprays) in his system.
How dangerous is huffing paint — and other toxic substances?
Huffing, sniffing, or inhaling substances for non-medical purposes is said to have both short-term and long-term effects on the body. When a person introduces chemicals through huffing, the effects are almost always fast — as the lungs easily absorb the chemicals, and subsequently, the bloodstream. Once the compounds pass through the blood-brain barrier, the person will instantly feel euphoria.
Short-term effects of huffing
However, the euphoric effects of the chemicals also easily wear off. As a result, people will have the urge to huff again — and this can be dangerous.
- Dizziness and drowsiness
Dizziness can cause a person to lose balance and fall.
- Impaired judgment
When people huff, they’re not exactly “themselves.” They may end up doing things that they normally wouldn’t do — or they may do things that not a lot of sober people (who are of the right mindset) will do.
- Muscle weakness and impaired reflexes
People (who are under the influence of chemicals via huffing) are at risk of getting into an accident if they’re driving an automobile or operating on machinery.
Huffing too much and too often — especially in a short amount of time — may fail to realize that they’re huffing too much of the chemical/s, that they’re somewhat replacing the oxygen they’re supposed to be breathing. When this happens, they can die from asphyxia — or lack of oxygen in the body.
Long-term effects of huffing
Since the effects of huffing are quick to wear off, some people who abuse it may not realize that the long-term effects can impact their future quality of life. Most toxic drugs — (and, sometimes, even the commonly-believed to be beneficial ones) when used for too long — can alter the human body. And there are instances that the effects of it are permanent and irreversible.
- Impaired memory — or brain damage
Since huffing alters the central nervous system, the effects of the chemicals on the brain can permanently damage one’s memory — some permanently forget memories, while some become more forgetful. Others are also prone to finding difficulties memorizing dates, names, etc. — even the important ones.
- Organ damage
The chemicals that people huff are mostly toxic. The human body, therefore, isn’t built to absorb them. Some who abused the toxic chemicals by huffing them found that their heart condition is compromised; others’ liver function is jeopardized.
Ultimately, a person can die from the complications of huffing paint or other chemicals — because of the damage the toxic substances can inflict on the organs.
What chemicals are some people huffing?
In an article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they listed some common household products that people use for huffing — they divided the category between Solvents, Aerosols, Gases, and Nitrites.
Solvents typically mean paint, glue, lighter fluid, gasoline, — and even a simple correction fluid!
Aerosols are also easily found in many of our houses — as they can be anything that’s packed in an aerosol spray, such as hairsprays, deodorant sprays, or spray paints.
Gases can be accessed as they’re used in homes or for commercial or industrial purposes — these can be a simple propane tank (that many use for cooking), butane lighters, or whipped cream in aerosol dispensers.
Nitrites are sometimes the substance that people (who are huffing) seek — these can come in the form of an air freshener, nail polish remover, or leather cleaner.
Are there benefits to huffing?
“Huffing” is generally associated with inhaling toxic chemicals. However, in medical use, medications can be administered through inhalation. If you had your wisdom teeth pulled out by your dentist before, then you’re probably familiar with the “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide — some of those who had to undergo surgery may have also had to be given this. Additionally, many of those who suffer from asthma are most likely familiar with an inhalant — and a nebulizer.
The benefit of huffing paint and other chemicals for non-medical use, however, is done merely to achieve a euphoric state — hence why some people abuse substances like paint and solvents through inhalation. While most people would like to achieve the feeling of happiness, if the method of attaining it is detrimental to the human body, then a person needs to be seen by a professional.
Just like with all kinds of substance abuse and addiction, a medical expert needs to evaluate the person who’s huffing paint or other chemicals — be it to check on the patient’s physical condition or if they need the help of a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Is huffing paint legal?
People are typically huffing paint and other everyday chemicals — and these chemicals are found in different and commonly-used objects. Therefore, regulating the sales of these items can be difficult — these inhalants are not regulated under the Controlled Substances Act.
Some people are huffing paint, glue, and even aerosol deodorants — which is alarming as these are commonly-used products that many of us have in our homes. Furthermore, what’s even more alarming is the dangers that a person can be at risk of suffering from when they’re huffing paint or other chemicals.
If you’re someone who’s huffing — especially if you feel as though you’re abusing the substances you’re inhaling — consider trying less-dangerous alternatives. However, you must also talk to a family member, friend, and a health professional about your condition.
If you’re a parent who has items that can be huffed, do your best to keep them away from your children — keep them in a place where they won’t have access to it. Better yet, find alternative products that don’t have the substances — that we listed above — in them.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.