Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Huffing: Paint

Huffing‘ is a term commonly used among adolescent age groups, referring to the use of inhaling solvents with the intention of getting high. The technique used for huffing includes soaking a rag with inhalant that can be found in most common household items. Next steps include either putting the rag up to the face or putting the rag in the mouth.

Usually the effects felt from huffing can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on which substance was inhaled and its quantity. The effects felt from huffing have been compared to effects of alcohol consisting of euphoric sensations, co-ordination issues and dizziness or becoming lightheaded. Paint has been discovered to be the leading product used in huffing as research highlighted at least 5 percent of teenagers, of who are 8th grade or above took part in huffing paint within their lifetime.

SAMHSA statistics of inhalant abuse among different age groups

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Statistics from a report produced by Samhsa in 2015 outlined inhalant use within the past year was more popular for younger years than older. A trends can also be identified that with age, the use of inhalant starts to decline, especially within the age groups of 26 to 35 and 35 or older.


Types of Inhalants used for Huffing

Year upon year more inhalants used in huffing are being discovered and used for recreational use. All types of inhalants used for huffing can be categorized into two primary groups.

1. Liquids

Liquids used for huffing, or for inhaling, can be found in everyday household items including nail polish remover, gasoline and glues. Liquid forms are either inhaled directly from the source or alternatively poured onto rags and subsequently inhaled.

2. Sprays

Commonly found sprays such as aerosol sprays, spray paint, primer are not as popular but can still be used for huffing.

Further types of inhalants exist but are not used for huffing specifically. The two other types of inhalants are gases and volatile nitrites. Gases include commonly found butane lighters and nitrous oxide (often referred to as balloons). Whereas volatile nitrites are commonly found in sexual enhancement products, commonly referred to as ‘poppers’. These substances are named nitrites as they consist of one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms.

Side effects

Regardless of which type of inhalant is used, the side effects from huffing quickly come in to contact with the lungs, bloodstream and brain potentially causing irreparable damage. A few of the dangers posed include:

  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Brain Damage
  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Seizures
  • Suddenly becoming or acting out with violence

Is Huffing Illegal?

Various products used for huffing are not illegal and can be bought over the counter, however these laws may vary between certain states. Out of the total fifty states that make up the United States, thirty-eight of these have introduced laws making various inhalants unavailable to those aged under 18, thus making inhalant use (as well as the act of huffing) illegal. Individual states such as California have also prohibited the use of other inhalants as the California Penal Code 381b states it is a crime to possess nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas” or “balloons” if the intention is to get high. This section in Californian state law also makes it a crime to be “under the influence” of nitrous oxide.

Treatments for Inhalant Abuse

Although addiction among inhalant abuse is uncommon, constant repeated use can lead to Substance Use Disorder (SUD). If you or anyone you know if suffering from the effects of inhalant abuse, it is strongly recommended to speak to medical professional as soon as possible. Shoreline Sober Living offers a comprehensive treatment program in California for those suffering from various types of substance abuse.

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