Intentionally concentrating and inhaling paint products is a risky activity. Individuals who huff paint usually do so to achieve an immediate high, a short-lived feeling of euphoria and lightheadedness. Many people erroneously assume that huffing paint is safer than using illegal drugs. In fact, it is an extremely dangerous practice that can result in numerous short-term and long-term health problems. Inhaling paint impairs the central nervous system and can very well lead to sudden death.
When a person huffs paint, he or she immediately experiences a euphoric feeling. The user becomes lightheaded and confused as chemicals from the paint penetrate the brain. It is common for a people to lose their balance and their ability to focus for up to five minutes after huffing paint. Like other inhalants, concentrated paint chemicals can cause a loss of inhibitions and make the user feel as if he or she is intoxicated from alcohol. As the euphoric effects fade, the individual tends to become very drowsy.
The short-term effects of huffing paint include headaches, dizziness, irritability, and nausea. Huffing causes blood pressure and heart rate to skyrocket, and many people sweat and shake. Withdrawal symptoms are usually severe, and an individual can suffer from insomnia, tremors, or even seizures as the immediate effects of the paint wear off.
With long-term abuse, a person can permanently damage his or her kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain. Chronic hypertension and other severe heart conditions are common in people who become addicted to paint. Long-term use can disrupt normal brain functioning, leading to memory problems and difficulty concentrating. An individual might also lose the ability to speak, hear, and smell correctly.
In some cases, paint abusers experience noticeable changes in personality, usually causing them to become depressed or apathetic. Many people suffer from long-term impotence and chronic insomnia. The dangers of huffing paint continue to afflict a person after he or she stops abusing the substance. Even if a person seeks professional help for his or her addiction and abstains from huffing for many years, urges to use and withdrawal symptoms can arise at any time.
Huffing paint can be immediately fatal, even in small doses. The United States Department of Justice and drug enforcement agencies in many other countries officially recognize a condition called sudden sniffing death (SSD). Cases of SSD are caused by the combined effects of the dangers listed above, ultimately resulting in heart failure or asphyxiation as blood vessels and airways are constricted. SSD strikes instantly and can affect anyone, be it a first-time user or a person who has been huffing paint for years.