Huff Post

By Dirk Hanson 03/25/11
small gold guy_0.jpg
A paint huffer's prison photo. Photo via thesmokinggun

Huffing: It’s not just for kids anymore. Paint thinner, furniture polish, acetone, and other substances that produce chemical vapors can be sniffed from plastic bags for a cheap and deadly high, sometimes making users look like the Golden Boy pictured here. While drug officials were busy warning teenagers about the dangers of inhalants, a steady stream of adult huffers has been turning up in emergency rooms across the country. Chronic huffers face irreversible brain damage, plus damage to the lungs and kidneys. The habit can even be fatal. According to a just-released survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more adults use inhalants than crack cocaine or heroin. Slightly more than half of the people admitted for treatment of inhalant abuse were 18 years of age or older. And patients who were 45 years of age or older represented a whopping 16% of admissions. Contrary to the popular image of huffers as Latin American slum children, the SAMHSA survey found that three out of every four huffers hospitalized for inhalant abuse were white males.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Disqus comments
dirk hanson.jpg

Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]

Disqus comments