Despite the fact that thousands of people abuse certain products by purposefully concentrating and inhaling their contents, very little is known about the rates of use and addiction to inhalants. This is because unlike other drugs, inhalants were never intended for human consumption. Therefore, studies in this regard are difficult to organize and carry out. However, we do know from numerous reports from emergency rooms and critical care centers across the country that the dangers of inhalants and huffing are very real, and include the possibility of mental impairment and even death. Understanding these risks is critical to developing a prevention and education program that can save lives.

Inhalants are a class of drugs that include a wide variety of chemical substances – most of which are found in everyday household cleaners and solvents. This can include paint thinner, gasoline, permanent markers, glade or potpourri sprays, furniture polish, liquid correction products and much more. In most cases users will directly inhale the vapors these products produce, or they may breathe the vapors from rags that have been soaked in the product. In some cases users pour small amounts of the products into paper bags and then breathe from the bags. However, the method of use does not worsen or lessen the risks involved.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly induce heart failure and death within minutes of a session of repeated inhalation. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs, causing the user to lose consciousness and stop breathing." Additionally, reports nationwide of seizures, vomiting, nausea, paranoia, and various psychoses have led some to believe that brain and central nervous system injuries and disorders may be cause by inhalants.

Despite the fact that addiction to inhalants is rare, more than two million people are reported to have used inhalants in the year 2009 alone. It's likely that these figures are actually much higher considering that the age group most likely to use these drugs are youths and adolescents who can easily obtain such legal substances. In fact, this availability is the primary problem with inhalants. Unfortunately, control efforts would have to be so broad as to regulate thousands of household products at an inconceivable cost.

Additionally, youths and adults who abuse inhalants are more likely to be associated with instances of other types of drug addiction and substance abuse, criminal and/or delinquent behavior, and other social or economic problems. Fortunately, there are treatment options for people who are suffering from dependence or addiction to inhalants or other drugs. And because the dangers of huffing inhalants can be deadly, it's vital that help be obtained before the problem gets out of control. This means that recognizing the signs of dependence is critical – continuation despite consequences, and obsession with a substance generally mark this state.

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Author's Bio: 

Ron has been professionally writing for the web for nearly 15 years and has evolved a style guaranteed to get results.