Huffing and chroming are different terms for the same concept. While people, especially young people today, used to refer to this action as huffing, it is now known as chroming. No matter what you call it, this activity involves inhaling hydrocarbons and dangerous chemicals. In addition to destroying the mind, chroming can have long-term effects on your body as well due to its toxic chemical that could harm your body. So, in this article, we will talk about the effects of chroming, particularly on someone’s mental health,  central nervous system, physical conditions, and different volatile substances that are prone to inhalant abuse.

huffing & chroming

How Huffing and Chroming Work

When someone or adolescents engages in chroming, they are basically inhaling gas vapors to get high. This may be done through sniffing, bagging, or huffing. While sniffing involves inhaling vapors straight from the container, bagging is when someone sprays the chemical into a bag. Then, they inhale the fumes from the plastic bag or paper. With huffing, the individual soaks a fabric in gasoline or another fluid before they inhale the fumes.

Unfortunately, chroming can be done with many different products. Air freshener spray, spray paint, hairspray, deodorant,  nail polish remover, lighter fluid, chrome-based paint, paint thinners, aerosol cans, and gasoline are all popular choices. Because all of these fumes are more concentrated when they are in a bag or fabric, huffing and bagging can cause a higher level of intoxication than other administration techniques.

Why Do People Try Chroming?

From 2007 to 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that more than 1.8 million people over the age of 12 abused inhalants. Out of this number, 700,000 inhalant users were between the ages of 12 and 17. Right now, there are a number of factors contributing to the popularity of this dangerous trend.

Huffing has been common among teenagers for years, but social media has caused it to become increasingly popular. On TikTok, a new chroming challenge has taken off, and it is incredibly dangerous. In March 2023, a 13-year-old girl in Australia died from chroming.

While TikTok made this trend famous, its popularity may also be attributed to a misperception about inhalants. Because many of these products are available over the counter, some teenagers wrongly think that they are safer than street drugs. Unlike street drugs and prescription drugs, it is easy to buy inhalants. There are no age restrictions or regulations involved, which makes these products extra appealing to some users.

The Short-Term Side Effects of Huffing and Chroming

Inhalants can cause a range of effects. You may experience different effects based on the type of inhalant or the amount you use. However, almost all solvents can cause loss of sensation and unconsciousness if you inhale a sufficient quantity of them.

The following symptoms are commonly associated with chroming and huffing.

  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Disinhibition
  • Agitation
  • Excitation
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Belligerence
  • Apathy
  • Impaired judgment
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Depressed reflexes
  • Lethargy

The initial effects feel like drinking alcohol. You may become excited at first and then feel drowsy after a little while. High doses can lead to confusion and delirium. Because inhaled nitrates can dilate your blood vessels, they can also cause a sensation of heat and a higher heart rate. You may also feel flushed or dizzy.

The Long-Term Side Effects of Huffing and Chroming

When someone uses inhalants over an extended period of time, they are more likely to experience mild withdrawal symptoms when they stop using these drugs. In the long run, some people will develop kidney damage, limb spasms, and liver damage. Often, individuals will suffer from coordination issues and delayed behavioral development.

One of the biggest issues with using inhalants is that you can overdose at any moment. If this happens, you may experience a seizure. Your heart can also stop beating from inhalant use. In both of these cases, the result can be deadly.

When someone is chronically exposed to inhalants, it has an incredibly toxic effect on their body. It causes long-term damage to the nervous system and brain. In fact, toluene and similar drugs can harm the sheath around your nerve fibers in the same way that multiple sclerosis does.

Over time, inhalants can damage your brain in a variety of ways. This can cause negative changes to your vision, hearing, and cognition. If you have been huffing for an extended time period, it can even cause severe dementia.

Sudden Sniffing Death

There is a specific syndrome that can happen with inhalant use that is called sudden sniffing death. Even a single session can lead to death in a healthy individual. While this syndrome can occur with any type of inhalant, it is especially common with propane, butane, and aerosols.

There are a few complications that can lead to sudden sniffing death. Asphyxiation, coma, fatal injuries, seizures, and suffocation can occur because of huffing. For instance, seizures can happen because of abnormal electrical pulses in the brain. Meanwhile, suffocation can occur if someone tries to inhale fumes from a bag that has been placed above their head.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

If your loved one is using inhalants, there are some common symptoms you may notice. Often, they will have an unusual amount of inhalant material nearby. For example, they may have extra paint cans and compressed air dusters.

In general, chroming won’t make someone hyper. Instead, its effect will be similar to alcohol. The individual may seem disinhibited or drowsy.
Unlike some drugs, inhalants act incredibly fast. The effects can appear quickly, so it is important to be wary of sudden episodes of unconsciousness. In some cases, these episodes could be a sign of an overdose.

If you notice some of the following symptoms, your loved one may be suffering from an inhalant addiction.

  • Slurred speech
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Paint stains on their hands, face, and clothes
  • Empty solvent and paint containers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Inattentiveness
  • Disoriented appearance
  • Coordination issues
  • Irritability

Prevention Options

One of the best ways to prevent inhalant use is by talking to your kids about chroming. Education can teach vulnerable groups that inhalants are not a safe alternative to drug use. Instead, chroming can be dangerous and addictive.

You can also prevent this issue by ensuring that huffing materials are locked away. If you don’t need paint anymore, you should make sure it is thrown away properly. In addition, you should voice your concerns if you notice signs of huffing abuse, like metallic paint on someone’s hands.

Some studies also show that life skills training can prevent huffing. This kind of training helps to boost the child’s communication abilities and self-esteem. In addition, life skills training can help students enjoy less anxiety and better personal relationships.

Treatment and Recovery

If you or a loved one has an addiction to inhalants, you don’t have to deal with this problem alone. There are many treatment programs available that can help you manage a substance use disorder. Before taking part in a treatment program, you should talk to a medical specialist about which treatments are best for your unique situation.

Family Counseling

Addictions tend to affect the entire family, so it is important to treat the family holistically. Family therapy can help boost communication and improve relationships. It can also help you understand how family dynamics and behaviors impact your substance abuse disorder.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

With CBT, you can learn how to manage stressful situations. CBT teaches you how to spot the emotions and feelings that trigger different behaviors. Then, you can stop unwanted behaviors before they happen.

Support Groups

Support groups and 12-step programs are popular options for treating substance use disorders. These programs allow you to get feedback from people who are going through the same issues. In addition to helping you prevent a relapse, these programs can be a source of moral support during your long-term recovery.

Motivational Interviews

When someone is ready to make a change, motivational interviewing can help. This technique utilizes open questions that help the individual understand their thoughts and feelings. Through this process, they can gain a better understanding of why they want to make a change.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

At the start of your treatment program, you will likely be offered a choice between inpatient and outpatient treatment. While inpatient programs require you to live and sleep at the treatment center, an outpatient program may only take a few hours each day. Because of this, inpatient rehab is often recommended for severe, long-lasting addictions.

Get the Help You Need for a Substance Use Disorder

Long Island Interventions is known for being able to help a variety of substance use disorders. In addition to our intensive outpatient programs, we also offer evening programs, residential treatment, and partial hospitalization. Clients can enjoy getting customized help through our sober coaches. Additionally, we offer group therapy, individual therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy.

No matter what kind of treatment you need, we can help you begin your sobriety journey. You don’t have to suffer from a substance use disorder forever. To learn more about how Long Island Interventions can help, talk to one of our team members today.

Published on: 2023-12-29
Updated on: 2024-06-27