Blog5 - What is huffing and what are the signs and symptoms of it?

What is huffing and what are the signs and symptoms of it?

Inhalant Abuse has been sweeping the country at an alarming rate

Huffing is the slang term for inhalant abuse which is common amongst the younger generation especially teens under the age of eighteen.  It is the deliberate inhaling of common household products to achieve some sort of euphoric high from the vapors.

Some of the common product ingredients used by inhalant abusers are:

  • Aerosol sprays such as deodorants, hair-sprays and spray paints
  • Gas such as nitrous oxide commonly known as laughing gas
  • Volatile solvents such as nail polish remover, glue, petrol, Marker pens with felt-tips and paint thinners.
  • Nitrites which are used in room deodorizes, although these are usually used to sexually arouse rather than euphoric arousal and found in the older generation.

Signs of Inhalant abuse

As the products being used are those that you commonly keep in your household cleaner cupboard there are no real great tells.  But here are a few things a parent can keep an eye out for:

  • Co-ordination problems
  • Nausea
  • Child seems drunk
  • Disorientated
  • No appetite
  • They have slurred speech
  • Unexplained pain
  • Chemical smells on their clothing and or breath
  • You may find excessive empty spray paint cans
  • Clothes that are soaked in various solvents

As most household products are easily bought and not too expensive like the harder drugs it makes them a lot more obtainable to teens.

sick - What is huffing and what are the signs and symptoms of it?

The effects of inhalants on a child

The effect produced by inhalants is almost the same as that of being intoxicated by alcohol.

Some teen described feeling drowsy, having a loss of inhibition and feeling like they were floating or lightheaded.

Prolonged use of the inhalants can cause:

  • Dizziness – which can lead to the teen passing out potentially putting them in harm’s way
  • Having delusions which can result in a teen harming themselves as with the hallucinations it can cause
  • Impaired judgement as with alcohol even walking in this state not only endangers the child but also puts people around them at risk for instance if the child crosses the road without looking.
  • There is weight loss with the prolonged use of the substance
  • Violent mood swings and depression
  • Weakness
  • Death can result from the use of inhalants both for inexperienced first-timers and those using over a long period of time.
  • The use of inhalants usually leads to the use of other substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol.


If you suspect your teen of using inhalants it is best to seek help and guidance before things escalate. has a section dedicated to helping teens and their family cope.