Inhalants: What Parents Need to Know

What They Are:

Inhalants are substances that are sniffed or huffed to give the user an immediate rush, or high. They include glues, paint thinners, dry cleaning fluids, gasoline, felt-tip marker fluid, hair spray, deodorants, spray paint, and whipped cream dispensers (whippets).

Sometimes Called:

whippets, poppers, snappers, rush, bolt, bullet

How They're Used:

These are inhaled directly from the container (called sniffing or snorting), from a plastic bag (called bagging), or by holding an inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth (called huffing).

What They Do:

Inhalants produce a quick feeling of being drunk — followed by sleepiness, staggering, dizziness, and confusion. Long-time users get headaches, nosebleeds, and sometimes lose their sense of smell. Inhalants decrease oxygen to the brain and can cause brain damage.

Using an inhalant just one time can lead to life-threatening health problems, and even cause death.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2010
Originally reviewed by: Ryan L. Redman, MD

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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