Teen Huffing/Inhalant Abuse, What Is It?


There are many products found in homes and offices, such as spray paints or glues, that are obviously not intended to be ingested by humans in any way, but when they are inhaled, produce psychoactive effects.  When these products are intentionally inhaled through the nose or mouth, this is called “huffing.”


Teen Huffing/Inhalant Abuse is the only substance class more abused by younger teens than older.


Teen Huffing/ Inhalant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm Malibu


What It Looks Like


Huffing can occur with an array of products and in a variety of ways.  Teens might sniff or snort fumes from a substance (such as a permanent marker or glue); spray the substance directly into their nose (such as a spraying duster); or even place a rag, soaked with chemicals, directly into their mouths.  Usually the effects only last a few minutes, which is why teens often do it repeatedly in order to extend the high.


Some of the most commonly abused Inhalants include:


  • Gasoline
  • Spray paint
  • Lighter fluid
  • Glue
  • Shoe polish


The effects of most inhalants are similar to that of alcohol.  They basically depress (or slow down) the central nervous system, and can create effects including, but not limited to:


  • Slurred speech
  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Light-headedness
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Drowsiness or tiredness


Some of the negative health effects of Inhalants include, but are not limited to:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Limb spasms
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Brain damage
  • Death


In some teens, inhalant abuse can lead to addiction, caused by effects similar to the addiction of amphetamines.


Residential Teen Huffing/ Inhalant Abuse Treatment


Teen huffing/ inhalant abuse treatment involves three basic goals, similar to our other substance abuse treatment approaches.  Those goals are:

  1. Eliminate the substance
  2. Address the teen holistically
  3. Support and implement new behaviors


First of all, therapists assure that teens stop using Inhalants, as the first step toward recovery.  This step is more difficult for some teens than others, but our therapists make sure to provide them any necessary resources and support necessary for them to do so safely.


Secondly, as teens begin to experience the same urge for the substance, therapists help them to evaluate what triggers lead to them wanting to use.  Therapists also help them to recognize what possible stressors or difficult situations in their lives may have provoked their initial use and/or their continued use.  Therapists work with teens to understand the connections between their stressors, their reactions, and their behaviors, and in doing so, help them to understand what they need help with and what changes they want to make.


Lastly, therapists teach teens new coping mechanisms, healthy habits, resources, and behaviors that will allow them to make healthier decisions in dealing with their every day situations.  Some of these habits may include techniques to deal with stress, such as meditation and exercise; techniques to address anxiety, such as breath work or Talk Therapy; and/or techniques to deal with negative systems of doubt or false belief systems they have about themselves.  By empowering teens with these resources, they can look forward to a long-lasting recovery.




Is inhalant abuse treatment really necessary for huffing?


In our opinion, it isn’t necessarily the substance that determines a teen’s need for treatment, but rather, the abuse.  If a teen is regularly abusing any substance, including inhalants, then they’re putting themselves at risk and they need help.  Substance abuse is always related to other underlying causes or issues and can be seen as a symptom for something greater that’s going on.

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