The use of inhalants is a growing problem among teenagers. Inhaling, also called "huffing," can severely damage someone. Teenagers aren't the only ones subject to its influence. Adult use is on the rise and younger kids are getting into it. These deadly substances are not something that you have to buy off the street. These are everyday products found in your home. The ease of accessibility is scary since things like paint, markers, and glue are used to get high.
Inhalant use refers to breathing in the vapors a substance gives off. The sole purpose is to get high. Surprisingly, these inhalants are legal. Things like markers and even cooking spray can be found in any local grocery store. It's uses like huffing that cause these items to be misused. Inhalant use is not something that only a few people pick up on either. By the time a person reaches 8th grade, one in five will have used inhalants.
Statistics show that young, white males have the highest usage rates. Hispanic and American Indian populations are close behind.
The effects of inhalant use are many. Almost all the abused products offer effects similar to those of anesthetics, which are slowing down the body functions. Depending upon the dosage, the user may feel a slight stimulation, less inhibition, or lose consciousness altogether. There is also something called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This means that the user can die after one inhalant use or after many. Immediate effects inhalants offer are nausea, sneezing, coughing, nosebleeds, feeling/looking tired, bad breath, lack of coordination, and loss of appetite. There is considerable damage to ones heart, kidney, brain, liver, bone marrow, and other organs. Mothers who use inhalants during their pregnancy will leave their baby to suffer similar results of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. There are many long terms effects as well. Permanent brain damage can occur. A person doesn't even have to be doing it for very long before the brain starts to get clogged. Loss of memory is one of the first signs of brain damage.
Signs that may alert you to an inhalant user would include, but are not limited to, slurred speech, a chemical smell on the breath, a decrease in appetite, poor memory, sores in the mouth or throat, agitation or excitability. These are the major symptoms of inhalant use and should be dealt with immediately.
Users are directly affected by their inhalant use, but families are affected also. Often times, parents may find out about their son or daughters habit and not realize that there is so much danger. One mother lost her son due to huffing. He would breathe fabric softener. As funny as it may sound, it killed him. Shannon Valdez died behind a 7-11. When an autopsy was performed, there was in incredible amount of foam found in the lungs. Shannon had died from lack of oxygen. The foam in his lungs kept all air out. Shannon's mother is devastated by the event. Unfortunately, Shannon's mother knew he was doing it. She didn't believe that inhalant use was so harmful.
It is unfortunate that inhalant use is on the rise. More and more people get addicted every year. It's scary to think that these addictions start with household items. By becoming more aware of how inhalant use affects the body, maybe we can educate each other about its danger and prevent another wasted life.