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Corporal Josh McKenzie
Crime Prevention/School Resource Division
(540) 244-8414 ext 3399
(540) 743-1252 (fax)

What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalant Abuse is the deliberate inhalation by “sniffing” or “huffing” fumes, vapors, or gases from common household and commercial products for the purpose of “getting high.”

How prevalent is Inhalant Abuse in the United States?

  • Over 2.6 million children, aged 12 – 17, use an Inhalant each year to get high.

  • 1 in 4 students in America has intentionally abused a common household

  • product to get high by the time they reach the eighth grade.

  • Inhalants tend to be the drug that is tried first by children.

  • “Sniffing” and “huffing” can begin at age 10 or younger.

  • 59% of children are aware of friends huffing at age 12.

  • Inhalants are the fourth most-abused substance after alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

  • The number of lives claimed by Inhalant Abuse each year is unknown because these deaths often are attributed to other causes.

What kinds of products are abused by young people?

  • More than 1,400 common household and commercial products are used for the purpose of “getting high.”

  • Most products used as Inhalants are inexpensive, legal, and readily available in the home, garage, office, school, or in the local convenience store.

  • Products include: computer cleaner, air conditioning coolant, gasoline, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, glue, and hundreds more.

What can happen to children who abuse Inhalants?​

  • Children can die anytime they abuse an Inhalant — including the first time — through Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, suffocation, choking, or a fatal injury.

  • Inhalant Abuse can damage the brain and other vital organs, such as the heart, kidneys and liver, causing brain damage or other severe physical impairments.

  • Inhalants can be addictive and children may progress to illegal drugs or alcohol abuse.

What can parents do if they suspect that their children are abusing Inhalants?

  • ​Seek professional advice! Call your family physician, a school nurse, counselor, or the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).

  • Start young and talk to your children about the safe and proper use of household products and the dangers of Inhalant Abuse.

  • Parenting requires good communication skills. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.

  • Ask where your children are going and with whom. Get to know their friends.

  • Know what they are doing after school hours (3:00pm – 6:00pm are critical hours).

  • Monitor activities and don’t be afraid to set firm boundaries.