While kids are avoiding drugs and alcohol at all costs, resisting peer pressure no matter what, there still waits a wolf in the darkness ready to consume its next victim: Inhalants.
Without fail, millions of children are experimenting with breathing in compressed air products to get that temporary high. “Huffing,” as it is called, is the illegal use of a product that is inhaled to get that desired feeling. Unfortunately, there is a lot more to inhalants than most anticipate, and is broken down into 4 main categories:
- Volatile solvents: liquids that vaporize at room temperature.
- Aerosols: sprays that contain propellants and solvents.
- Gases: products that contain compressed gases and vapors.
- Nitrites (poppers): consist of cyclohexyl nitrite, amyl nitrite, or butyl nitrite.
What makes inhalants so dangerous is that they are easily and legally accessible nearly everywhere. From the home improvement store to the laundry room, these deadly canisters are literally lying around. Everyday products are tried and tested by teens until they reach that desirable feeling. Often times that one high is never reached due to “sudden sniffing death syndrome,” which is when the brain releases large quantities of catecholamines (like dopamine) upon inhalation. This induces ventricular fibrillation (damage to heart muscles/severe irregularity in heart beat) and causes instant cardiac arrest.
If death is not an immediate consequence, these “innocent” highs have neurological and physical consequences. Some of which are skin damage, cardiovascular damage, pulmonary toxicity, liver toxicity, bone marrow suppression which may lead to anemia, and leukemia.
Unlike many illegal drugs, it only takes one "hit" from an inhalant to cause serious neurological harm, or even death. Awareness is urgent and imperative. Parents and children alike must recognize this threat and must call out this wolf prowling amongst the sheep.