A news report recently spoke of an increase in the number of adolescents huffing. Huffing is not a new addiction but it hasn’t been in the spotlight as often as other addictions, such as prescription drugs and alcohol. Huffing refers to the abuse of inhalants. The addict inhales the chemicals from various chemicals to induce a sense of euphoria. These chemicals can include:


    • Volatile solvents
    • Aerosols
    • Gases
    • Nitrates


The majority of substances inhaled are found in every day household items that are used for cleaning, cooking, painting and hair care. It is a frightening thought that an individual would spray a chemical into a bag, place the bag over their head and inhale to get high, but the reality is this is done quite frequently. The access to these chemicals provides many adolescents easy access for their next “high”. There is great concern for those individuals who choose inhalants as a drug of choice. This concern is due to the harsh consequents of inhalant abuse.


The consequences of inhalant abuse include:


    • Death: even with the first use.
    • Brain Damage
    • Organ Damage: kidneys, heart and liver.


The most common age for individuals to begin using inhalants is around 12 years old. Statistics have shown that 1 in 5 adolescents have tried inhalants by the eighth grade. These numbers are staggering due to the access that adolescents have to their drug of choice. These chemicals aren’t illegal nor is there an age limit of who can purchase them.

As a parent, loved one or educator it is crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of inhalant drug abuse. Due to the severity of the health consequences and the potential to have permanent damage, the need for awareness is increased dramatically. Here are a few of the symptoms to look for that may indicate that someone is abusing inhalants.


    • Finding empty containers that contained the inhalant, such as spray cans.
    • Problems speaking and communicating.
    • The appearance of sores or a rash around the nose or mouth.
    • Change in eating patterns combined with weight loss.
    • Clothing or other items having a strong chemical smell.


Should you suspect that someone you know has an addiction to inhalants, it is strongly advised that you seek the help of a professional. As is the case with all addictions, this is a situation that needs to be handled delicately. Huffing is a silent killer addiction that doesn’t often get as much attention as it should. The chemicals are easily accessible and the consequences and health hazards should not be taken lightly. A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration noted more than one million people were Huffing last year. The key is to become pro-active and be aware of household items, which can be purchased over the counter, which can cause an immense amount of harm and damage in a very short period of time.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, and Moorpark.  She is does Life and Recovery Coaching also by phone.  She is the Celebrity Expert on Celebrity Rehab, Inside Edition, E!News, A & E, Headline News with Jane Vellez-Mitchell, and CNN Prime News, as well as a host of other publiciations.  Sherry can be reached at sherry@sgabatherapy.com to learn more about her coaching packages, speaking engagements, workshops, and teleseminars.  Sherry is also the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” Go to http://thelawofsobriety.com/ to get your Free Relapse Prevention E Book.


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