Adults now 'huffing' more than kids
March 17th, 2011
11:40 AM ET

Adults now 'huffing' more than kids

It’s called huffing – inhaling chemical vapors to get high. It's usually associated with teenage drug abuse, but a new report suggests that's not really the case.  The majority of Americans abusing inhalants are not children but adults, according to a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

More than 1 million adults were “huffing” last year, according to SAMHSA’s newly released “Data Spotlight Study,”  based on data from treatment facilities across the country.

That’s more than those who used crack or LSD, Heroin or PCP.   In fact, the study found 54% of all people who sought treatment in 2008 were adults over age 18.

“Inhalant abuse is an equal opportunity killer that does not discriminate on the basis of age, background or gender,” said Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “Although we have been understandably focused for many years on the dangers of huffing poses to our kids, these new data highlight the need for everyone to be aware of and effectively address the serious risks it poses to adults and all segments of our society.”

Long-term inhaling and sniffing can lead to irreversible damage to the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and eyes.  According to the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition , a wide range of common household products are abused: glue, spray paint, markers, hairspray, air freshener, nail polish remover, deodorant, computer keyboard cleaner, paint thinner, spot removers, even cooking sprays and whipped cream sprays.  Sudden sniffing death, the coalition says, can occur even the first time.

In the past, the NIPC has focused on prevention in children.  This new report suggests that's no longer enough.

“The frequency of emails and calls on our toll-free hotline from people needing help for spouses, older siblings and friends, parents and even grandparents,” said Harvey Weiss, executive director of NIPC, “has led us to understand that people of all ages are at risk and may need help with this problem.”

Nearly three-quarters of the admissions were males.  Seventy-two percent were white, and thirty-eight percent did not graduate high school.

But Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, warns that parents still need to be diligent about children and inhalants. “Our homes are increasingly becoming the source of dangerous drugs of abuse for young people,” Kerlikowske said. “Whether these products are inhalants found under our sinks and in our utility room, or dangerous prescription drugs stored in our medicine cabinets, parents need to act today to protect our young people by securing these products and discussing the harms that they cause.”

soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Prohibition basically forces people to use drugs that are more dangerous yet albeit legal to obtain a different altered state of consciousness. I bet if pot were legalized people would not be risking their lives huffing more toxic substances.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rochelle

      Perfectly said !!

      March 17, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • gerri

      I'm so tired of people pushing for decriminalization/legalization of drugs. most base their argument on Holland, never even mentioning that Holland's legal and social infrastructures are more compacted and managable than America's; America has 330 million people spread out over 50 states all with unique governments and cultures of their own. It is fool hearty to compare our large country to a small country that is able to better manage it's social issues.

      Secondly, how many of you pot heads realize that there are more carcinogens in marijuana than there is in Tobacco. Pot can cause emphyasema. Basically, any smoke you inhale is bad for you. One form of smoke is not safer than the other. But people want to be high too much to understand that simple truth, and that is pathetic.

      March 17, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • Hester P.

      @ gerri....You don't have to smoke weed. I hate smoking...yech.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • derakh

      So don't smoke it. Just eat it. Same effects, no smoke inhalation.

      And no, I am not a pot head, nor do I do any illegal drugs, but I am all for legalization of pot.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      The problem is more the abuse of substances than the legality of the substances. I would wager that "huffing" is on the rise because the substance is not only legal, it's cheap and easily obtainable. Consider the state of the economy, where many people have lost their jobs and can't find work, yet still have debt obligations. If you can get high legally for $3, why buy something illegal for $10? Because getting high is an escape from reality.

      The reason some substances are illegal and others aren't is because of the potential to harm others, not yourself. An incidental reason is that illegal substances are expensive, and mostly produced by criminals, guerrillas, and terrorists which they sell to fund their criminal behavior. So buying these substances helps contribute to organized crime as well.

      What people really need to do, rather than look for a substance-based temporary escape, is actually deal with their issues rather than ignoring. And when you need a break, go for a walk outside and enjoy nature, or discover the joy of reading, or write your feelings down...all free, none habit-forming.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
    • Tommas

      @ gerri, you have no idea what you are talking about. What's pathetic are people who don't question government propaganda. People don't eat tobacco so there is no comparison, if you smoke that is your choice not the governments. Let alone the fact that it has never been proven the cannabis causes lung cancer, if anything it prevents it. Last, please look up Portugal's drug policies if you want a real case study.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
    • louise jackson

      wrong dude... folks (at any age) who risk their lives to get high think that they are invincible, and are in need of psychological evaluation. It has nothing to do with prohibition or the legalization of any drug. Society is forever looking for excuses to justify bad behavior.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • jimmynog

      Our Canadian Indians have a proud tradition of huffing gasoline in plastic garbage bags, they even lay a rag soaked in it over their baby's face when they're partying so the baby doesn't wake and cause a problem. Legalizing weed isn't going to change this behavior.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      LOL I love it when people bring up prohibition. It is a comedy of errors, why because the LACK of prohibition with substances has NOT stopped anyone from abusing legal substances either. Legalizing substances does not solve the problem regarding abusing or lack of moderation of substances. You all screaming legalize just want your stupid drugs at hand. Here is a thought DON'T USE DRUGS!!!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
    • Tommas

      Sharky, mankind will ALWAYS use psychoactive substances. You live in a fantasy if your hope is people will not and it is people like you who cause us to wastes billions for nothing. Allow people to use cannabis, ie the safest psychoactive substance know to man and you will have far fewer people putting industrial chemicals into their bodies.

      March 17, 2011 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      I think the kids that were huffing are simply all grown up now, and that's the only reason why this is still around.

      March 17, 2011 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      Legalizing weed would reduce not only this behavior but also alcohol abuse.
      Legalize weed and many of our social problems will drastically decline.

      What prohibitionists fear is if weed is legalized and social problems concerning drug abuse drastically fall, than they will be guilty (even in their own minds) of being the cause of much of the damage we associate with drug abuse.

      March 18, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • Kitty

      Vaporizers used for marijuana are a lot safer..

      March 18, 2011 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      @gerri: It's "foolhardy" not "fool hearty," although much can be said for the heartiness of fools. 🙂

      March 19, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  2. RXW

    Yes the war on drugs is totally working...only 1 million people get high now...and only from inhalants. (sarcasm)

    And WOOO I finally was the first to comment.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RXW

      Damn! Someone hit post before me ... either way ... we at least share the same opinion.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • kps

      What study did you get your information from? Johns Hopkins July 1996 as posted in the New England Journal of Medicine December, 2000 States "There has NEVER been one reported case of lung cancer or COPD from smoking marijuana." At least give your sources before you make a fool of yourself.

      March 17, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • jimmynog

      You were second, NEENER NEENER uhuhuhuhuuhuhh

      March 17, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      Marijuana lends itself to being consumed through vaporizers or food.
      The issue of lung cancer is just some BS prohibitionists spew off to win arguments. It does not mean they are right.

      Prohibition is destroying everything that once made the US a great nation. Prohibition has transformed the "Land of the Free" into the worlds "Prison Nation".

      March 18, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  3. todd

    If people want to get high, they will find a way to get high. The WOD is a collosal waste of time and money.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sharky

      By that argument the war on anything is a waste of money. So lets just legalize absolutely EVERYTHING and I do not just mean drugs. Nothing is a crime anymore, just legalize it all as it is wasting money fighting it.

      March 17, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
    • Tilbo

      War on masturbation IMO.

      March 18, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse |
  4. todd

    sorry, "colossal"

    March 17, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. David F Pawlowski

    CNN forgot the biggest huffing abuse substance – over the counter butane lighters. This type of abuse, "medical" marijuana l(legalized dope dealing) and the abuse of over the counter medications crushed for use as inhalants is a real issue in Middle America

    March 17, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Crushing and snorting medications is called insuffulation. It is completely different than inhaling solvents. One is a powder, typically a salted alkalkoid, whereas "inhalents" are solvents typically produced from hydrocarbons. Marjuana extracted with butane produces "hash oil" which contains no butane after a few seconds as that evaporates away. You should really learn about intoxicants before making youself look stupid.

      March 17, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
  6. Old Story..

    Already read about this on the Huffington Post ... *snare drum to high hat*

    March 17, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. elaine cosby

    i love to huff... and i'm 29. ^_^

    March 17, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Domor

    The next time you are in the chech out line at Walmart look around and you will see the biggest problem with huffing. Millions of cigarette lighters are sold and not for lighting cigarettes or their joints. Why doesnt someone in government or the medical profession sound the alarm to this destroyer of our youth?

    March 17, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessica

      People are huffing propane and butane?

      March 17, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
  9. Jessica

    Nice way to kill all the brain cells. Used to work in a restaurant and the dishwashers used to huff all the redi-whip. You would go to use it an out would sputter liquid cream. Neither one was very bright and are probably in jail today.

    March 17, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Damon

      Well aren't you the dummy...Redi-whip uses nitrous oxide, the same inhalent used by dentists.

      March 17, 2011 at 18:43 | Report abuse |
  10. Inhalants are bad mkay

    "It's like I'm walking on sunshine"

    March 17, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Roxie

      This is wasted space in cyber space.

      March 18, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  11. mobrule

    thinning the herd of the weak and stupid. I just hope these people croak quickly instead of being even more of a drain on society.

    March 17, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • windy

      no they are probably breeding

      March 17, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  12. brian

    The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Lies about marijuana, how can you trust Any thing they say!!!!

    March 17, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jon

    Being addicted to something should not be a crime. Maybe people would be more likely to seek help.
    Selling drugs should still be illegal. And people committing crimes to support their habits should be punished.

    March 17, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Amanda

    i'm all about to each their own if it's not hurting any one else. just wished they'd stop making laws to protect the stupid so the natural selection could weed out the stupid. just saying.

    March 17, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KawiMan

      Well said!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      ...if the stupid would just refrain from stealing and selling what doesn't belong to them to support their addictions, then that would be just fine. As it is, they do hurt others.

      March 19, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
  15. KawiMan

    The WOD is a waste of time, money, and resources. It doesn't work.

    The government won't legalize drugs simply because they are a BIG CASH COW for law enforcement, the judicial system, and the prison systems.

    Going after drug related "crimes" is much more profitable (asset seizures) for law enforcement and is easier to procecute than going after bank robbers, child molesters, gang members, etc.

    Looking at the inmate populations and their reasons for incarceration. About 50% of federal prison inmates are there due to drug related offenses. Those percentages are higher at state prisons. Some are locked-up for 10+ years for marijuana related issues, while child molesters and gang members walk out of prison.

    This is a sympton of a greater, underlying problem with our law enforcement, justice system.

    March 17, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jack Hole

    wonder when we'll have to start asking for our aerosol products and bath salts from behind the counter. giving our name, date of birth and address, like we have to do with cough medicines.

    March 17, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. William Wallace

    Actually, I base my argument for the legalization of drugs on the failure of the War on Drugs to achieve anything. Much the same way Prohibition failed to do anything. I also base it on freedom and liberty. Now I can't even buy cold medicine without feeling like a criminal. I'd like to see the look on George Washington's face when you demand a urine test before allowing him to take charge of the Continental Army. Speaking of such things, is the President or Congress subjected to random urine tests? How about the average CEO at any corporation? Judges?

    March 17, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. alien

    ha drug test the so called high and mighty ones i doubt that will ever happen. im more curious on how many judges congressman and woman or even police officers have gottin away with D.U.I or even simple possession charges.

    March 17, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Damon

    Everyone knows this is stupid, even stupid people. The problem is that people want to get high, and this is something they can easily get at the store. Marijuana is infinitely safer, it has never killed anyone and should be available at the store. Cigarettes and alcohol don't even make you feel good, do they? They definitely don't make you high.

    March 17, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. chaching

    Jon, being an addict is NOT a crime! If that were the case every one of my in-laws would be in jail for being addicted to food. I believe the reason so few seek help is because of the cost associated with getting sober.

    March 17, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Required Johnson

    Huffing the smell of CNN keeps me high. Wohoooooo!

    March 17, 2011 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Scott

    How stupid is this? Our Goverment allows our water supply to be tainted with thousands of different chemicals and drugs, so much that veirtually everyone person walking has these chemicals in his/her system. Yes they are at very low levels, but you are exposed to them constantly over your lifetime now....How can you know for sure what they have done to you?

    Yet the same Goverment outlaws or controls most drugs, even those well known to be safe....
    This incidently creates a much larger criminal class, that requires more laws, more lawyers, more law enforcement, more money....It's no wonder other countries laugh at us.

    March 17, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. John Moyer

    Legalizing cannabis won't necessarily address the issue of huffing. It may even increase it. We need to work harder on removing the stigma of mental health treatment.

    March 17, 2011 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Wolf

    Take a healthy brain and destroy it via inhaling aerosol/chemical vapors. Sad and tragic. Life IS worth living!

    March 18, 2011 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. blah

    @kawiman they already do, went to target the other day and got some keyboard cleaner and they asked for my ID

    March 18, 2011 at 01:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. oh please

    ask yourself the ONLY important question:

    LEGALIZE MARY J SO PEOPLE CAN HAVE A NATURAL SAFE method of taking the edge off of life......shesh

    March 18, 2011 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Heil

    Marijuana can be used in several ways in fact a lot of Drs that are prescribing it recommend ingestion or using a nebulizer or thc suckers brownies cookies even breads so as for it being a carcinogen isn't true if used in the proper manor do you really think all the prescriptions out on the market are safe I know I don't when u see recall after recall on the tv in the papers at least marijuana isn't a man made chemical!!!

    March 18, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Heil

    All the prescriptions are so safe when a natural herb can help in so many ways yet a dr can legally prescribe warfarin (caumadin) which if anyone knows anything is RAT POISIN!!! Which I am on! I have an Uncle who is on medical marijuana which helps him eat when his serious fatal health condition does not! Or how about the cronic pain he's in give him pot or vegg him out on phentonal patches till he dies (which were also a recal by the way)

    March 18, 2011 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hintofgray

      You can't even spell the name of the medication and you think anyone should pay attention to YOUR opinion, as opposed to that of an actual MD?

      It is to laugh.

      March 19, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      @Hintofgray: your derision leads me to believe that you are arrogant and cruel, thus I will not consider your opinion of import.

      March 19, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
  29. meee

    Let life takes its natural course and the terminally ill die sooner

    March 18, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Steve

    Stupid adults.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. JT

    Huff, do drugs, drink excessively....please. We'd be better off shedding our society of these lowest common denominatorsby giving them the ability to kill themselves. The amount of money that comes out of the public coffers to prop up people who refuse to take personal responsibility is staggering. The human toll we citizens pay to the loss of life because of drunk drivers, drug addicts, "gangstas" , etc. is mind-blowing to concieve we find the compassion in a grown adult that inhales the contains of an aerosol can, or the long term drug user that kills/robs for crack. Smoke up Johnny! I say, the sooner you can destroy yourself, the sooner the rest of society can be unshackled from the self-worthless among us.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Stay-Huffed Marshmello Man

    I huff all the time... Especially when I get to the top of the stairs... Ba-dum-bum!

    March 18, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. John B

    Lacquer head knows but one desire
    Lacquer head sets his skull on fire
    Lacquer head knows no in betweens
    Huffin' on bags of gasoline

    March 18, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Heil

    I don't feel the comment about let them die!!! My uncle did not ask to contract polio as a child nor the effects it has takin on his body nor did he ask for a failing liver due to the medications they used to treat the polio or the kidney he now needs from the meds to keep his liver functioning at least a little he is a whole 55 yrs old!

    March 18, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Godstar

    Good, let them huff themselves to death, which is usually what happens. Why waste time worrying about people who don't value their own lives. Darwin in action.

    March 18, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Matt

    AA's big book is full of stories of people drinking themselves into sanitariums before harder drugs were prevalent. In the absence of illegal drugs, some people will destroy their lives no matter what. Ever notice that people in AA don't blame alcohol, rather they blame the "defects" in and of themselves for their addictive state. You can't blame cookies for you being a diabetic, you can't blame alcohol for alcoholism; each of us is on our own path and it's up to us to avoid or negotiate with our own situation. Drug laws do nothing but waste public resources and make criminals out people who are their own worst enemy.

    March 19, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. hillbilleter

    Evidently, the huffers who survive are now adults. Today's kids have gone on to another mortal fad.

    March 19, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. laseybuoy

    Let's strike off in a new direction: A government, be it national, state, or city, should not have a law on the books that it cannot enforce. The Law only works because we agree to let it work. That is, the consent of the people is necessary for a law to work. If enough people disagree with the law then there are not enough law enforcement officers to force them to follow the law. The WOD is a case in point. And the problem is this: It teaches people that it is possible to break the law with impunity. This can lead to (I believe) disrespect for other laws. And any society that loses the rule of law is on a short, steep path to disaster.

    March 19, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Rachel

    People are going to do what they want to, regardless of whether or not a government endorses their decision. While policies and other implements may slightly sway one's choice, there's no way to wipe out human will. This is why there is obesity, for example. Despite myriads of studies, cases, facts and more, people still eat themselves into cardiovascular catastrophes. The opposite is true, as well; society has more of a hold on people than does the government. People either crave perfection or avoid reality. Very few actually maintain a grounded perspective on life, and those few exist enriched and enlightened. So whether or not certain drugs are legalized won't change the fact that there will be something else for people to test or divert to. We'll always be delving deeper and pushing fences.

    March 20, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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