Freon found in air conditioners was the inhalant of choice for Amber Suri Talley, a 17-year old from Lexington, N.C.
She had been using for approximately six months when one hit stopped her heart — she was later found dead from cardiac arrest and asphyxiation, the garbage bag used to keep in the fumes still covering her face.
This sudden and tragic death, known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, can occur even with a teen's first time sniffing.
One in five students in the United States has used an inhalant to get
high by the time he or she reaches eighth grade, according to the NIPC.
Sniffing is particularly popular in younger teens because it is so
readily available. Markers, whip cream cans, glues, spray paint, air
fresheners and butane cooking spray are just a few of the more than a
thousand products that can be used to get high by sniffing.Unfortunately, younger teens are also the most affected by
using these toxic substances, said Dessa Bergen-Cico, assistant
professor in the department of Health and Wellness at Syracuse University.
"The tissue and mucus membrane in the nose and throat of younger teens
are very sensitive because they're growing," so when they inhale the
substances not only are they more subject to the effects, but they may
be more susceptible to long-term problems such as brain and organ
damage, and possibly cancer, she said.
Other long-term effects of huffing include damage to the heart, kidney, brain, liver and other organs.
"Brain and memory are the most affected," Caudle said. "You have
young people developing dementia, having hallucinations, walking into
things — not to mention feelings of agitation and anxiety and poor
How to Know If Your Child Is Huffing
According to Bergen-Cico, the two key markers are physical evidence of use and behavioral changes.
Physical evidence would include finding empty aerosol containers, items
containing noxious fumes missing from the household, rags, plastic
bags, or strange stains or odors on teen's clothing.
Behavioral signs of use, she said, often mimic alcohol intoxication with slurred speech, glassy eyes, poor muscle coordination, nausea,
stumbling and/or dizziness. Mood changes are also common, and parents
may notice that their children aren't themselves