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What Is Huffing Addiction? How To Stop

Huffing addiction is a type of substance use disorder characterized by inhaling the fumes of aerosols, gases, and other substances. Referred to by clinicians as inhalant use disorder, huffing addiction can put a person at an increased risk for harm, including physical damage, cognitive problems, overdose, and even death. 

What is Huffing Addiction? 

Huffing refers to the intentional inhaling of certain substances for a recreational high. People who engage in huffing typically do so for short-term effects such as light-headedness, dizziness, hallucinations, and elevated mood.

Even though huffing is often done for recreational or so-called pleasurable purposes, it is important to understand that it is extremely dangerous. The negative outcomes that can result from huffing include organ damage, hearing loss, developmental delays, and brain damage.

Huffing is also associated with poor judgment and loss of inhibition. These effects can, in turn, put people at a risk for slips, falls, automobile accidents, unsafe sex, and other harmful behaviors. When a person mixes huffing with alcohol or other drugs, the chances of immediate and long-term damage can increase significantly.

What Do People Huff to Get High? 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), huffing typically involves substances from one of four categories: aerosols, gases, nitrates, and solvents. 

Examples of the everyday items commonly used for huffing include spray paint, hairspray, cleaning supplies, paint thinners, lighter fluid, gasoline, and glue. Depending on the substance, people may breathe the fumes through their nose or mouth. In addition, they either inhale directly from the container or pour the substance onto a rag or into a paper bag.

The substances that are typically used in huffing all have legitimate purposes. Most of them can be legally purchased in the United States, and several of them are present in many households. 

These factors contribute to higher rates of huffing among adolescents and teenagers, who have difficulty getting alcohol or other drugs. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that huffing is more common among adolescents ages 12-13 than among members of any other age group.

Is Huffing Addictive? 

The substances that are used in huffing are not typically categorized as drugs. This is one of the reasons why some people ask, “is huffing addictive?”

The answer to that question is yes. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), huffing can, indeed, cause a person to become addicted. The DSM-5 includes entries for inhalant use disorder (the clinical term for huffing addiction), inhalant intoxication, and other inhalant-induced disorders.

Signs and Symptoms of Huffing Addiction 

The signs and symptoms of huffing addiction can vary depending upon several factors. In general, though, the following are among the common warning signs that a person has been engaging in huffing:

  • Rash under the nose or around the mouth
  • Smell of chemicals on clothing, body, or breath
  • Possession of paint cans, cleaning supplies, and other chemicals for no legitimate reason
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired balance, coordination, and reflexes
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating

People who develop huffing addiction may also exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Frequently missing school or work
  • Abusing inhalants as a means of dealing with stress or pressure
  • Being unable to experience pleasure without huffing
  • Continuing to abuse inhalants even after experiencing negative consequences

People who struggle with huffing addiction may also develop tolerance and experience withdrawal. Tolerance means that a person will need to huff more frequently or in larger amounts in order to experience the desired effects. Withdrawal refers to the onset of painful physical and psychological symptoms when a person tries to stop huffing or when they are unable to access the substances they have been huffing.

How to Treat Huffing Addiction 

Huffing addiction is a devastating and potentially deadly disorder. Thankfully, however, it is a treatable condition. When a person gets the type and level of care that meet their specific needs, they can regain control of their behaviors, stop huffing, and pursue a much more hopeful future.

The first step in successfully treating huffing addiction is identifying the full scope of a person’s needs. Then, a person needs to determine which types and levels of care will help them live a healthier life. 

Depending on factors such as how long a person has been huffing, which substances they have been abusing, and how frequently they have been engaging in huffing, the best options may include detoxification and aftercare.

It’s important to ensure that treatment for huffing addiction doesn’t only focus on the symptoms a person has been experiencing. In many cases, people begin huffing to numb themselves to emotional pain. Huffing can also lead to other physical, emotional, and social problems. Programs that take a holistic approach to huffing addiction treatment can help a person achieve true healing in mind, body, and spirit.

Begin Treatment for Huffing Addiction in Nashville, TN

If you or someone that you care about has become trapped in the downward spiral of huffing, please know these three essential facts: Help is available, treatment works, and the care you need may be much closer than you realize. Brentwood Springs Detox is a respected source of huffing addiction treatment in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit our admissions page today and discover your path to a healthier and more hopeful tomorrow.

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