Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

Common Substances Used in Inhalant Abuse

“Huffing” is the common term used to refer to inhalant abuse. It involves inhaling the chemical vapors of certain substances on purpose, in order to achieve what is called a “euphoric effect.” A previous post shared some of the substances in the home that may be used in inhalant abuse – hair spray, freon and paint thinner were the examples given.

According to an archived Intelligence Brief on the website of the United States Department of Justice, there are more than a thousand common household products that can be used in inhalant abuse. These products have been categorized as follows.

inhalantsVolatile solvents. These are liquids that vaporize at room temperature once they are left in unsealed containers. Examples of substances that contain volatile solvents are paint thinner, correction fluid, felt-tip markers, nail polish and nail polish remover, and rubber cement.

Aerosols. These are sprays with propellants and solvents, the most common of which is toluene. Examples of aerosols are spray paint, deodorant and hair products. Inhalant abusers are said to favor silver and gold spray paint.

Gases. These are substances that do not have definite shape or volume. Refrigerants and medical anesthetics fall under this category; abusers are said to inhale gases in butane lighters, air-conditioning units and propane tanks. Among medical anesthetics, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the most commonly abused. One can get it from whipped cream dispensers and may be bought in balloons or in small vials at raves and stores selling drug paraphernalia.

Nitrites. This is a group of chemicals that includes cyclohexyl nitrite, amyl nitrite, and butyl nitrite. It is said to be used to enhance sexual experiences and can be bought in adult shops as well as over the Internet.


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