The week of March 16 - 23 is National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week. In promoting education on these topics, the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information and the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition offers informational material on the subjects.

What do they look like?

Inhalants are ordinary household products that are abused by inhaling and sniffing. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants.

How are they used?

Commonly known among kids as “huffing,” “bagging,” or “sniffing,” inhalant abuse is the deliberate concentration and inhalation of common products found in homes, offices and schools.

Examples of products kids abuse include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (Freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.

What are their short-term effects?

These products are sniffed, snorted, bagged (fumes inhaled from a plastic bag), or “huffed” (inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth) to achieve a euphoria. Inhalants are also sniffed directly from the container.

Within seconds of inhalation, the user experiences intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by alcohol.

Alcohol-like effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, dizziness, confusion and delirium.

Nausea and vomiting are other common side effects. In addition, users may experience light-headedness, hallucinations, and delusions.

What are their long-term effects?

Compulsive use and a mild withdrawal syndrome can occur with long-term inhalant abuse. Additional symptoms exhibited by long-term inhalant abusers include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, and inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression.

Because intoxication lasts only a few minutes, abusers frequently seek to prolong their high by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several hours. By doing this, abusers can suffer loss of consciousness and death.