"Cheap high" of huffing has terrible price

March 11, 2010 2:33:36 PM PST
There is disturbing news tonight about the form of substance abuse known as "huffing."

Researchers have found that this deliberate inhaling of dangerous products is more widespread among the young than many of us suspect.

A new study shows that 12-year-olds are more likely to abuse potentially deadly inhalants than marijuana, cocaine, or even cigarettes.

The data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that between 2006 and 2008 6.9 percent of 12-year-olds admitted they had used a non-medical inhalant. Experts say only alcohol was a more widely used drug by 12-year-olds.

Pamela Hyde, director of the agency, says, "More 12 year-old are using inhalants, than alcohol, marijuana, and hallucinogens combined."

Ashley Upchurch - now 17 - says she first inhaled or "huffed" air dusters when she was 11. It was a cheap, powerful high, that came on instantly.

"I didn't know what I was using. It was a product I had access to in my own home, and I wasn't afraid to use it," she told a news conference.

SAMSA is trying to raise awareness about the potential deadly effects of "huffing."

Some 12-year olds find easy access to chemicals known as "poppers" and " whippets" at some concerts. And sniffing household products like glue, air fresheners, hair sprayeven paint thinners, allows kids to get a quick, inexpensive high.

SAMSA says most parents don't know that just one sniff can cause irreversible physical and mental damage, while prolonged use can lead to liver, lung, and kidney problems, and cause the loss of muscular strength.

Warning signs that someone has been "huffing" include general confusion, watery or glassy eyes, and slurred speech.