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Huffing: Parents and Kids Beware

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 22nd 2010

Huffing: Parents and Kids BewareIts called "huffing" and it kills. Children as young as 12 years of age are doing it and many are either dying or causing themselves irreparable brain damage.

"Young people sniff products such as refrigerant from air conditioning units, aerosol computer cleaners, shoe polish, glue, air fresheners, hair sprays, nail polish, paint solvents, degreasers, gasoline or lighter fluids. Youngsters intentionally inhale these substances to get high. Most parents are not aware that use of inhalants can cause "Sudden Sniffing Death," or immediate death due to cardiac arrest, or it can lead to addiction and other health risks."

Parents need to be alert because this tragedy is happening in best of homes with what appears to be the greatest stability. Once its too late, parents report that their child appeared glassy eyed, dull, strange and had an odor.

Children are not aware of the risks associated with huffing including the fact that death can and does occur abruptly.

By the way, in case you believe this is a rare occurrence, the U.S. Government reports that the percentage of twelve year olds using inhalants is greater than those using alcohol and with the combination of inhalants, alcohol and prescription drug abuse, the U.S. is facing a grim problem.

Information is available at the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition and can be found at:

Your comments and questions are strongly encouraged.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Dusting - Dink - Jan 10th 2011

Today I learned about dusting that makes a short high when inhaled. I just want to say an addiction that causes you to hurt yourself is not worth the side effects; Death, illusions or hurting your self the only thing that inhaled substances can give you is a life full of misery from point a-z D being the worst. If you need to talk or walk join me April 2,3,4 2011 at Sirloin Stockade in Marion, Indiana I will be walking all three days. Loosing a loved one from such behavior is heartache. M.A.R.C.S. has become my life long and my friend for the past 21 years since I created her.

Preventative Measures - - Mar 22nd 2010

I definitely feel that the number of 'air duster' keyboard cleaner cans should be regulated at the time of purchase. Any person over 18 has the ability to load up with an arm-full of can and go to town without being asked even 1 question. I realize that the manufacturers are now utilizing a 'bittering agent' but it takes about 2 seconds to realize if you dont hold your mouth to the can the bittering agent is ineffective.  

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