Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome

Article by

Teens who use inhalants to get high are putting themselves at risk for serious injuries or even death.

What do you think the most common drug is for a 12-year old to abuse? You might think that it is cigarettes, alcohol or marijuana, but recent figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that the most common danger that could send your adolescent into drug rehab are common household cleaners. Sniffing aerosol cleaning supplies, air fresheners and even shoe polish is an increasingly common and risky high being sought out by youths.

The problem with sniffing inhalants is growing. Drug addiction facilities are filling up with adolescents who are abusing common household supplies. According to the SAMSHA data, almost seven percent of all children have used inhalants to get high by the time they are 12. While in some cases this can be a one-time experimentation, in many cases children who experiment with inhalants get hooked and wind up with serious addictions.

One of the things that make inhalant use so frightening is the high level of danger. Unlike with alcohol addiction where the effects are typically seen over time and with heavy use, one sniff can be harmful or even fatal to teens. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome can strike children any time they abuse inhalants — even the first time they try it. And it can be difficult for parents to recognize that their children are using inhalants — unlike alcohol and marijuana, inhalants are often not on the radar screen of most parents.

Along with the potential for Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome and the potential for the type of addiction that ends in drug rehabilitation, using inhalants also has several other potential long-term health effects. Inhalant use can lead to damage to the heart, kidney, brain, liver and other organs.

Inhalant use is both physically and psychologically addictive, meaning that it can be difficult to treat in a drug rehab center. The physical addiction can lead to withdrawal symptoms that are sometimes quite violent, while the mental addiction can also be very difficult to break. Recent studies have also shown that teens are also more susceptible to drug addiction, making the process of treatment at a rehab program even more difficult.