New York State Police

Crime Prevention:
Sniffing Your Life Away

Inhalant abuse can kill. And if it doesn't kill you, it can leave you with severe brain damage or severe respiratory problems. There's no fooling around - even a first-time user can end up dead after "sniffing" or "huffing" inhalants..

Everyday products like glue, paint, lighter fluid, fingernail polish, permanent markers, WiteOut®, deodorants, and anything in an aerosol can are sniffed to get a rapid and dangerous high. While this type of substance abuse may seem harmless because the products are not legally classified as drugs, they are deadly chemicals and poisons. An inhalant "high" may give the feeling of well-being and reduce inhibitions, much like the effects of alcohol and other sedatives. Higher doses produce laughter and giddiness, feelings of floating, time and space distortion, and hallucinations. But the reality is inhalant abuse has serious shortand long-term side effects

The Short Term

Sniffing can make you sick. For example, victims may become nauseated, forgetful, and unable to see things clearly. Some victims lose control of their bodies, including use of the arms and legs. You don't look real cool stumbling around high from inhalants. Side effects can last 15 to 45 minutes after sniffing. People who sniff often act intoxicated and experience short-term memory loss as well.

The Long Term

Chronic inhalant abusers may exhibit symptoms such as anxiety, excitability, irritability, or restlessness that can lead to violent behavior.

What Are Some Signs of Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant abusers may show some or all of these symptoms:

What Should You Do if Someone You Know Is Sniffing and Seems To Be in Trouble?

What Can You Do To Prevent Inhalant Abuse?

Know the facts. Remember that inhalants are not made for the body. They are deadly chemicals and poisons. Know the many ways inhalants can damage your mind and body. Tell your friends about the dangers of inhalant abuse. And refuse to hang out with friends who sniff.

As with many prevention efforts, preventing inhalant abuse takes a community effort. Organize with other teens to involve the media, retailers, schools, churches, health care providers, civic and volunteer organizations, elected officials, and the law enforcement community to stop kids from sniffing. Churches can educate their youth groups. Retailers can monitor sales of certain products. Health care providers can pass out literature to patients.

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