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Some common inhalants include compressed air used to remove dust on computers, rubber cement, spray paint, nail polish remover, hair spray, nail polish, gasoline, correction fluid, lighter fluid and the aerosol from vegetable cooking spray and dessert topping. Anesthetics such as nitrous oxide or ether can be abused as well. The products are sprayed into plastic bags or soda cans or onto rags, then inhaled.
Like alcohol, inhalants act as central nervous system depressants. They give users a quick euphoric rush followed by a bit of wooziness. The effects fade quickly, which makes inhalant use difficult to detect and also gives children the misconception that inhalants aren't dangerous.
Users also can choke on plastic bags or suffocate, and inhalants can cause the heart to beat irregularly, and lead to cardiac arrest. Inhalant users risk causing severe and permanent damage to their brain, heart, kidney, brain, liver, bone marrow and other organs. Inhalants can also be physically and psychologically addictive.
Education and awareness are the keys for inhalant prevention! Talk to your children and encourage the health classes at your schools to include information about "huffing" in the curriculum.
Signs of inhalant abuse
- Paint or stains on fingers, mouth, or clothing
- Spots or sores around the mouth
- Red or runny eyes or nose
- Chemical breath odor
- Drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
General signs that something is wrong
- Problems in school ? failing grades, absenteeism, apathy
- Anxiety, excitability, irritability
Sources for more information:
The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, www.inhalants.org, 1-800-269-4237. Last accessed 8/9/06.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (inhalants) www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Inhalants.html. Last accessed 8/9/06.
It may seem like harmless fun, but ... Huffing can kill by Sameh Fahmy www.tennessean.com/features/health/archives/.
Nancy Brown , Ed.S, M.A., Ph.D.