When we think of drugs, most of us think of marijuana, heroine and cocaine. However, some of the most lethal drugs are simpler and easier to obtain. These drugs are found in our homes. Things like paint, magic markers, white out, lighter fluid, hair sprays, vegetable cooking sprays and air freshener. There are close to 1,000 other everyday household products that are being abused by kids to get a quick high. These items are cheap and easy to obtain, and at the same time, when inhaled can prove fatal.
Kids inhale products through their nose (sniffing) or mouth (huffing). The majority of kids who try these products think they are harmless. Regular use of inhalants leads to tolerance; this means the user has to inhale more of the drug to get high. Hundreds of children each year die from inhalant use, sometimes on their first try. Inhalants are the third most abused substances among 12 to 14 year olds in the United States. . While many kids admit to sniffing toxic items, they do not consider this to be "inhalant abuse". These inhalants are dangerous chemicals that do irreversible damage to the human body when misused.
People who abuse inhalants on a regular basis and do not die put themselves at risk for permanent and severe brain damage. Inhalant vapors react with fatty tissues in the brain, literally dissolving them. Therefore, chronic inhalant abusers may permanently lose the ability to perform everyday tasks like walking, talking and thinking. Chronic users can also suffer from these serious medical complications:
- death may occur from depression of the central nervous system
- instant, fatal heart failure (even during first use)
- blood abnormalities
- destruction of bone marrow and skeletal muscle
- respiratory damage
- kidney failure
- hepatitis with liver failure
Some of the symptoms of inhalant abuse include red or runny eyes and /or nose; spots and/or sores around the mouth; unusual breath odor; drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance; correction fluid on fingernails; sitting with a pen or marker near the nose; constantly smelling shirt sleeves; nausea and/or loss of appetite; and paint or stain marks on clothing or on skin.