Inhalants are ordinary household products that are inhaled or sniffed by children and young teens to get high. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused as inhalants.[1]

What are inhalants?

Also known as whippets and huff, among other slang terms, common inhalants include certain types of glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, air conditioner fluid (Freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.[2]

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

Understand the risks

Effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, dizziness, confusion, delirium, nausea and vomiting. In addition, inhalants may cause lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions.

Long-term use can lead to compulsive inhalant use and a mild withdrawal syndrome. Additional symptoms caused by long-term inhalant use include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression. After heavy use of inhalants, a person may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. Because intoxication lasts only a few minutes, people using inhalants often seek to prolong their high by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several hours. Doing this can cause loss of consciousness and death.

Prolonged inhalant use can cause damage to the parts of the brain that control thinking, moving, seeing, and hearing. Possible effects can range from mild impairment to severe dementia.[2]

Identify & address use

Signs of use include slurred speech, dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, delirium, nausea and vomiting. If you’re concerned your child may be using inhalants or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior more effectively.