Is Huffing Popular Among Teens of Today?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Aria Doherty was found dead with her nostrils taped shut and a can of compressed air still attached to her mouth. The 14-year-old honor student reportedly died of cardiac arrest after inhaling from a can of computer keyboard cleaner in 2013.

Doherty’s parents believe it was their daughter’s first time “huffing” – a slang term used to describe the intentional breathing of toxic fumes from common household products for the purpose of getting high.

Inhalant abuse, also known as huffing, sniffing, bagging, glading and dusting, is incredibly common among teenagers, in part because the product sources are so readily available. Many of the items are found in kitchen cabinets and garages across America. They’re cheap, legal to buy, and can be obtained easily. Additionally, poppers and “whippets” –or, balloons of nitrous oxide – are constructed and distributed by amateur drug dealers.


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There are more than 1,400 household products and supplies that could be abused as inhalants. The most common are:

  • Gases: Whipped cream cans, butane lighters and propane tanks
  • Aerosols: Sprays that contain propellants, such as spray paint, dust-off, hair spray and cooking spray
  • Volatile solvents: Liquids that vaporize at room temperature, including paint thinner, nail polish remover and felt tip markers
  • Nitrites: Inhalants often used as sexual enhancers, such as poppers, which are known to relax blood vessels

Many teenagers think inhalants are just a harmless, quick way to get high. They’re drawn to the instant rush and psychoactive, euphoric side effects.

When misused, inhalants can be deadlier than street drugs. Some of the harmful side effects can include permanent brain damage, memory loss, liver damage, suffocation, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, kidney damage and even death. And it’s no small problem; inhalant.org reports that several hundred deaths occur each year from inhalant abuse.

The immediate warning signs of inhalant abuse include spots and sores around the mouth, nausea and loss of appetite. If you or someone you know has a problem with inhalants, call our help line at 1-888-332-2565 and get help today.

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