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Signs and Symptoms of Huffing Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of huffing addiction can be challenging as they are not always as easily recognized as other types of substance use. Part of the attraction of huffing is the substances used to get high are readily available. Additionally, many of the substances used to huff are legal and easily obtainable by anyone, even tweens, and teens.

What Is Huffing?

Huffing is the name used when someone misuses inhalants to get high. Inhalants are often chemical-based substances that people misuse to get high quickly. Depending on the inhalant huffed, one could experience:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Psychoactive and Hallucinogenic Effects
  • Numbness
  • Pleasure

What Do People Huff To Get High?

There is a wide range of substances that people huff to get high. It is easy to find these substances in your home, such as nail polish remover, cans of whipped cream, airplane model glue, paint thinners, magic markers, gasoline, and varnishes. 

Inhalants are usually broken down into several categories depending on their intended purpose and usage. They include:


Most people know nitrites as “poppers.” They are a liquid substance that has a strong smell. They are commonly found in room deodorizers and leather cleaning products. Three of the more common types of nitrites are isobutyl, amyl, and butyl. 

Industrial Inhalants

These types of inhalants are found in products commonly used in industrial settings. Some of the more common ones you may be familiar with are paint removers, paint thinners, floor cleaning products, floor waxes, propane, gasoline, aerosol cooking sprays, and dry cleaning fluid. 

Household Inhalants

These are inhalants that are easily accessible and commonly found in homes. They can include:

  • Correction Fluid
  • Magic Markers
  • Cans of Whipping Cream
  • Nail Polish
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Airplane Glue
  • Spray Paint
  • Paint Thinners
  • Gasoline
  • Cleaning Products
  • Hand Sanitizer

Medical-Grade Inhalants

One of the most popular medical-grade inhalants huffed is nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas. Other medical-grade inhalants huffed are ether-alcohol, anesthetics, rubbing alcohol, and chloroform.

The Dangers of Huffing

The dangers of huffing are primarily related to the toxicity of the chemicals found in the substances huffed. Ongoing inhalant misuse can cause changes and damage in the body, including the following:

  • Organ Damage (Lungs, Liver, Kidneys, Heart)
  • Respiratory and Nasal Passage Damage
  • Impaired Vision
  • Brain Damage
  • Impaired Mobility
  • Paralysis
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Damage
  • Seizures/Convulsions
  • Suffocation/Asphyxiation
  • Coma
  • Choking
  • Death

Furthermore, the toxic chemicals can destroy brain cells and lead to changes in brain functioning, such as

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Personality Changes
  • Short-Term and Long-Term Memory Loss

Is Huffing Addictive?

Huffing can become addictive due to the effects inhalants have on the body. While there are chemical variations between inhalants, they generally work similarly to other depressants slowing the central nervous system by binding to GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitters. 

GABA regulates anxiety and stress levels, and inhalants force the body to increase the release of GABA. Therefore, the increase in this neurotransmitter causes the person to feel relaxed, sedated, and appear intoxicated. 

Some inhalants also cause an increase in dopamine, another neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. A person can feel elated, energetic, and excited at higher levels. They may also feel a state of euphoria. 

The brain remembers these changes and the feelings associated with inhalant misuse as rewarding. As a result, a person will develop cravings to experience these feelings again. 

The primary concern with inhalant misuse is the high one experiences is short-lived and only lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Therefore, it can be common to continue to huff once the effects wear off to make them last longer.

The downside is that the body starts to build a tolerance to inhalants. This results in huffing for longer periods and using more potent substances to feel high. In addition, the more a person uses inhalants, the body continues to increase its tolerance.

Eventually, the person reaches the point where they cannot function without inhalants because they have developed an addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Huffing Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of huffing addiction may not initially be easy to notice. One reason for this is most people do not associate inhalant misuse with the changes they see in another. 

Another reason it can be challenging to notice huffing addiction is the wide range of substances that can be misused. However, with continued huffing, several signs and symptoms will manifest, including:

  • Household products are missing. 
  • Chemical smells on the person misusing inhalants. 
  • Chemical stains on clothing, the hands, or the face. 
  • Complaints of frequent headaches.
  • Memory, cognitive, and focus issues.
  • The appearance of being drunk from alcohol. 
  • Blistered or irritated skin around the nose and mouth. 
  • Frequent runny or bloody nose.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Hanging out with “new” friends. 
  • Bloodshot and red eyes.
  • Complaints of frequent sore throat. 
  • Weight loss and reduced appetite.

How To Treat Huffing Addiction

Huffing addiction is treated like other substance use disorders. The withdrawal symptoms experienced during detox can include headaches, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, tremors, and anxiety. In cases where inhalants have been misused long-term, the person could experience convulsions and seizures during detox. 

Because of the risks of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, detoxing alone should never be attempted. Instead, medically-supervised detox is highly recommended since it reduces the risks of dangerous withdrawal symptoms. 

In addition, the person has access to healthcare and addiction treatment specialists, who can help provide added support as they take the first steps to recovery.

Begin Detox and Addiction Treatment for Huffing in Nashville, TN

When you are ready to get help for your huffing addiction, help is available at Detox Nashville in Tennessee. We offer medically supervised detox and customized addiction treatment plans. To start your detox treatment or to learn more about our treatment programs, contact us today.

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24/7 Help Is Standing By, Call Us Now.