You’ll huff and you’ll dust and you’ll sniff your brain down!

According to a 2006 survey, 11% of high school seniors had abused inhalants.  Most users stop by late adolescence so you don’t see too much huffing (or sniffing, snorting or dusting) on college campuses, but since a small percentage of users continue into adulthood you might run into it.     

Inhalants are gas or vapors in common household products that produce a high when inhaled in concentrated quantities. Common examples include glue, keyboard cleaner, spray paint, air fresheners, liquid eraser (WhiteOut), vegetable cooking spray, and whipped cream. 

Inhalants produce their high by quickly passing through the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they travel to the brain and dissolve into the fatty tissue surrounding it.  While the high only lasts a few minutes, the effects – especially with repeated use – can last a lifetime.  Inhalants block the ability of blood to transport oxygen so major organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and muscles can’t work properly.  For more details, check out the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition and livestrong

It’s also important to know that it isn’t just chronic use that is dangerous.  Up to 22% of people who’ve died from “sudden sniffing syndrome” – a condition where the heart flips into an irregular and lethal rhythm – were first time users.  So trying it just once can kill you. 

If you are concerned about yourself or a friend, get help!  Talbot Hall at OSU East provides alcohol and drug recovery services 24/7/365, and the fine folks at the Student Wellness Center and Counseling and Consultation Service can direct you to other helpful resources as well.

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University