Teen Inhalants: Huffing Sniffing, Dusting and Bagging
Commonly known as huffing, sniffing, dusting and bagging – inhalants are dangerous and deadly. The scarier part is most are common household products.
Inhalation is referred to as huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging and generally occurs through the nose or mouth. Huffing is when a chemically soaked rag is held to the face or stuffed in the mouth and the substance is inhaled. Sniffing can be done directly from containers, plastic bags, clothing or rags saturated with a substance or from the product directly. With Bagging, substances are sprayed or deposited into a plastic or paper bag and the vapors are inhaled. This method can result in suffocation because a bag is placed over the individual’s head, cutting off the supply of oxygen.
Other methods used include placing inhalants on sleeves, collars, or other items of clothing that are sniffed over a period of time. Fumes are discharged into soda cans and inhaled from the can or balloons are filled with nitrous oxide and the vapors are inhaled. Heating volatile substances and inhaling the vapors emitted is another form of inhalation. All of these methods are potentially harmful or deadly. Experts estimate that there are several hundred deaths each year from Inhalant Abuse, although under-reporting is still a problem.
Warning signs if your teen or child is using inhalants:
– Drunk, dazed, or dizzy appearance
– Slurred or disoriented speech
– Uncoordinated physical symptoms
– Red or runny eyes and nose
– Spots and/or sores around the mouth
– Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
– Signs of paint or other products where they wouldn’t normally be, such as on face, lips, nose or fingers
– Nausea and/or loss of appetite
– Chronic Inhalant Abusers may exhibit symptoms such as hallucinations, anxiety, excitability, irritability, restlessness or anger.
It’s important to have open and ongoing conversations about dangers of inhalants.
• Ask your pre-teen or teenager if he or she knows about Inhalant Abuse or is aware of other kids abusing products.
• Reinforce peer resistance skills. Tell him or her that sniffing products to get high is not the way to fit in. Inhalants are harmful: the “high” comes with high cost.
• Encourage your child to come to you if he or she has any questions about Inhalants.
• Tell your child that the consequences of Inhalant Abuse are as dangerous as those from abusing alcohol or using illegal drugs. Be absolutely clear — emphasize that unsafe actions and risky behavior have serious consequences.
• Monitor your teen’s activities — set boundaries, ask questions. Be firm, know his or her friends and his or her friends’ parents, know where they meet to “hang out.”
• Educate your child about the dangers, but don’t mention specific substances unless your child brings them up. While many youngsters know kids are sniffing some substances, they may not know the full range of products that can be abused; and you don’t want to give them suggestions.
• Tell your children that you love them and that their safety is your number one priority. Tell them again…and again…and again.
If you suspect your teen is using inhalant, please seek help immediately. If they refuse to get help or you have exhausted local resources, you may want to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.