Signs of Inhalant Abuse

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Clips From Intervention on Huffing

Huffing, sniffing, dusting, bagging—all of these terms refer to inhalation of dangerous chemical substances.  There are over 1,400 common household and commercial products that can be inhaled, many of which can be obtained right at home or at hardware or convenience stores.

How It’s Done

Huffing involves soaking a rag in chemicals and holding it to the face or even stuffing it in the mouth and inhaling.  Sniffing is typically done straight from containers such as spray cans as well plastic or paper bags, wherein the vapors are directly inhaled. Bagging is highly dangerous, as it involves spraying a substance into a bag and placing the bag completely over the head—this can cut off a person’s oxygen supply and cause suffocation.

Warning Signs

Inhaling the chemicals from substances like glue, gasoline, air freshener and cooking spray produces a high and can cause dizziness, headaches, lack of coordination, loss of control, abdominal pain, hallucinations and impaired judgment.  While different inhalants can produce different effects, the warning signs of inhalant abuse generally include a drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance, slurred speech, lack of coordination, red or runny eyes and nose, unusual breath or chemical odors on clothing, and sores on or around the mouth.

Chronic abusers of inhalants have been known to have hallucinations and can be irritable, excitable, restless or angry.  All users, even first-time users, are at risk of Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, whether from an adverse reaction to or overdose from the chemicals, or of suffocation (especially when using the bagging method).


The consequences of inhalant abuse are serious and can include damage to vital organs, hearing loss, liver, kidney and central nervous system (including brain) damage.

If you or a loved one has an inhalant or other substance addiction, help is available.  The professional and caring staff at Northbound Treatment Services has developed comprehensive treatment options at the rehab treatment centers.  Click here for more information about the services Northbound offers

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