Inhalant abuse is a widespread phenomenon, not just in the United States, but across the world. It predominantly involves inhaling or huffing the chemical vapors coming from a range of substances via the nose and trachea. Surprisingly though, a wide range of these substances are household products, such as gasoline, spot remover, cleaning fluid, etc.
It may come as a surprise for many, but the practice of huffing gasoline vapors is one of the most widespread forms of inhalant abuse in the United States. The fact that gasoline is readily available at home has resulted in a significant rise in the abuse of this substance, especially by adolescents and teenagers. Add to it the fact that it is very difficult to detect the abuse of substances such as gasoline and things just get worse.
Effects of Gasoline Huffing on the Central Nervous System
So, how exactly does inhaling these volatile vapors, coming from gasoline, effect the individual's mind or body? Most of the individuals who resort to drug abuse believe that it takes them into a state of trance. Gasoline vapors are believed to do the same thing, but the intensity differs from that of the other components of substance abuse. Along with other aromatics, gasoline also contains various benzene compounds. When inhaled through the nose, down the trachea, the vapors coming from gasoline tend to trigger a hallucinogenic effect on the individual's mind.
In other words, huffing this substance triggers a series of hallucinations and makes the person see or hear something which doesn't exist. Individuals who resort to gasoline abuse tend to experience a subconscious state, wherein they are dreaming, while being fully or partially aware of their surroundings. This may sound very much like being awake and dreaming, which is what it actually is. However, this euphoric effect has a short duration and the effect of gasoline vapors starts depleting as oxygen is pumped into the body. The bad part of this experience is that the short term euphoric effect makes people resort to this substance again and again, thus making them vulnerable to its dangers.
Side Effects of Huffing Gasoline Vapors
Substance abuse in any form is dangerous for the health; gasoline abuse is no exception. While hallucinations and delusions are the major side effects of sniffing gasoline, the user is also bound to experience common side effects of inhalants, such as dizziness, aggressiveness, and impaired judgment. In adolescents and teens, long-term effects of huffing gasoline include serious medical conditions such as peripheral neuropathies and bone marrow damage.
There have been several instances of inhalants abuse resulting in death. In most of these cases, suffocation triggered by excessive use of the substance is the underlying factor. Though this is relatively rare, the chances of such a tragedy cannot be ruled out. Additionally, there is the threat of 'sudden sniffing death', wherein sniffing or huffing volatile vapors coming from any substance, can result in a sudden adrenaline rush and trigger cardiac arrhythmia, eventually resulting in death.
As we mentioned earlier, any form of substance abuse is injurious to the health and therefore, is best avoided. If the aforementioned dangers of huffing gasoline vapors seem rare, it's only because most of the cases of gasoline and other such solvents abuse go unreported. This is one of the major problems when it comes to drug abuse prevention. As the effects of gasoline vapors are short lived, it's difficult to detect whether someone from your own household is doing it behind you. As adolescents and teens form a major share of people who resort to such practices, the onus is on the parents to ensure that they monitor their children and, more importantly, keep such substances out of their reach.