What Is Huffing?

Adolescents and teens are especially susceptible to substance abuse, and addiction. Whether it’s because of the presence of addiction in the family unit, a biological predisposition, the “wrong” peer group, or some other factor, youths are natural followers, quick to do what they’re shown, told, or what’s natural and easy. So, it comes as no surprise when something as dangerous as huffing begins to make its rounds among the younger generations.

This has resulted in unprecedented rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse and addiction among adolescents. There’s even been a spike in depression and suicide rates among adolescents and teens, though not solely due to substance abuse. 

When you look at the whole picture, it becomes apparent that adolescence is a period of heightened turmoil in general. That turmoil can become compounded and dangerous when substance abuse enters the mix.

Over the years, numerous drug trends or “fads” have become popular that involve a wide variety of substances administered through various methods. And sometimes today’s trend can become tomorrow’s epidemic. It’s quite common, perhaps even expected, for adolescents and teens to experiment with alcohol. Adolescents also commonly experiment with marijuana, as well.

However, for most teens, these represent phases, periods of experimentation that fade just as quickly and abruptly as they came. Of the many drug trends that have come and gone over the years, one called huffing seems to have persisted. 

What Exactly Does “Huffing” Mean?

The average household contains various harsh chemicals and noxious substances that give off toxic fumes. Most of these substances are kept in closed containers or don’t have a high enough concentration to dissipate very far beyond their containers. 

For the most part, keeping a reasonable, safe distance from such chemicals will prevent them from causing any harm to the people who use them. However, when individuals intentionally begin to inhale the fumes from these toxic chemicals to obtain a high, it’s called huffing. This practice is also known as inhalant abuse.

Although huffing often begins by directly inhaling the fumes of chemicals around the house, there are intoxicating inhalants that are often available concentrated in canisters. One example of this is nitrous oxide. Such substances don’t require one to heat or burn them before ingesting, but rather the individual only has to break the canister open and inhale the gas that’s released.

Other methods of administration can include inhaling gases that have been released in plastic bags or inhaling from directly out of aerosol cans while filtering the gas with a rag. While different methods of administration are meant to reduce the potential for harm, huffing is actually incredibly dangerous and makes individuals prone to severe respiratory injuries.

Some inhalants are used for medicinal purposes, such as nitrous oxide that is used during dental and other localized surgeries. However, huffing refers to the illicit, recreational inhalation of dangerous chemicals for the purpose of becoming intoxicated. The effect achieved by huffing can vary depending on the amount inhaled and the actual substance that’s being huffed.

More often than not, theintoxication caused by huffing is much like being intoxicated due to the consumption of too much alcohol, causing loss of motor coordination, slurred speech, distorted perception, loss of balance and equilibrium, and so on. With some substances, users report briefly feeling an intense euphoria that’s comparable to a very mild opiate, but still, others can cause vivid hallucinations or emotional impairment and disturbances.

The substances often used for huffing range greatly and include such things as kerosene, gasoline, butane, propane, toluene and similar chemicals found in paint thinners, acetone in nail polish removers, aerosols and propellants, amyl nitrite and other substances known as “poppers,” nitrous oxide found in whipped cream canisters, and a number of others.

The Dangers of Huffing Toxic Chemicals

One of the most severe and dangerous risks of huffing is in developing hypoxia, which is characterized by the depletion of oxygen levels in the body—either locally or throughout the entire body—and can cause unconsciousness or even death very abruptly and unexpectedly. 

Additionally, some gases can cool dramatically when they are condensed into a can and stored at very high pressure. One such case of this is the compressed air used to dust computer keyboards. In these instances, the individual is at risk of developing frostbite as the very cold air is inhaled into the body.

When combined with smoking, several gases, even natural compounds, can explode due to being flammable or combustible, putting users at risk of severe burns, the loss of appendages, and other injuries. The intoxication caused by huffing often results in impaired coordination, impaired depth perception, and impaired judgment. These can result in accidental injuries or even deaths, such as in fatal car accidents.

Inhaling toxic chemicals and gases—proven to be as physically and physiologically addictive as many other mind-altering substances—is known to cause problems with one’s respiratory system, including infection and pneumonia. If individuals were to vomit as a result of intoxication while still huffing, they might inhale vomit, which can quickly cause death.

It’s difficult to determine the frequency with which huffing causes death. Many of the deaths thought to be caused by huffing are often documented as being due to cardiac arrest or failure, which can also be brought on by huffing. Individuals who inhale intoxicating fumes are also at risk of severe permanent brain damage that can result in limb spasms, hearing loss, and other conditions caused by damage to the brain and central nervous system.

What’s more, huffing also presents an ever-present danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, methemoglobinemia, bone marrow depression, lead poisoning, damage to the liver, myelin, apoptosis, and other life-threatening conditions.

5 Reasons Why Having a Sponsor Is Essential

In the not-so-distant past, addiction was widely believed to be a moral affliction rather than a disease.

Today, we have the benefit of years of research, which have afforded a much better, more enlightened understanding of addiction. We’ve realized that addiction is actually a chronic, progressive brain disease for which there’s no cure. 

The disease, which starts in the brain, causes altered brain structure and functioning that compels people to seek harmful chemicals and behaviors, even when it means severe consequences or harm to themselves or others.

To combat this incurable disease, various treatment methods and techniques have been implemented into addiction recovery, which is offered in the form of addiction treatment programs at alcohol and drug rehab centers nationwide. 

However, while addiction treatment tends to be the most effective recovery tool for getting sober, other tools are used for staying sober, one of which is a sponsor.

Most commonly associated with 12-step support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, a sponsor is someone who serves somewhat like a tour guide through the various steps of recovery. 

In a 12-step program, a sponsor is someone who has demonstrated mastery of the 12 Steps through long-term sobriety. The person also can be counted on as a resource for learning and working the 12 steps or even during times of stress and temptation. 

However, in addition to these, the following are five reasons why have a sponsor is anessential part of recovery.

A Sponsor Helps Keep You Grounded in Reality

A common side effect of addiction is a tendency to be irrational and unrealistic. People who are struggling with addiction are always trying to convince themselves of something, whether it’s that they aren’t really addicted and don’t need treatment, aren’t responsible for their problems, and so on. And then as the person goes through recovery, there’s a tendency to expect all of his or her problems to go away immediately. 

In many cases, being irrational can lead to really big mistakes. However, a sponsor can help to keep a person grounded as he or she continues and progresses in recovery. In effect, a sponsor can be a great resource for helping an addict to see the error of his or her ways before he or she makes a mistake that can’t be undone.

A Sponsor Will Never Judge You

Everyone is different, and everyone has different likes and experiences, as they come from diverse backgrounds. Each person has a history, and each has made mistakes. In many cases, a person could be judged for his or her past, especially by those who have little experience with something like an addiction.

Those who have not personally experienced addiction or haven’t known someone who became addicted is typically much more judgemental, much less likely to be an objective listener. Fortunately, this is not the case with a sponsor. 

No matter how bad a person’s mistakes might have been or what type of person he or she used to be, a sponsor will never judge that individual, making him or her feel less like a person or less worthy of forgiveness because of any previous mistakes. In many cases, a sponsor might even have valuable advice based on prior experience, which is especially likely since sponsors are almost always recovered addicts themselves.

A Sponsor Holds You Accountable

One of the hardest parts of getting and remaining sober is related to accountability. People in active addiction often blame others for their problems. If they relapse after becoming sober, they’ll often say it was the fault of someone or something else, suggesting they were pushed into a relapse so as not to have to admit to making the mistake.

This is another reason why a sponsor is an essential part of lasting recovery: Sponsors can help peoplebe more accountable for their actions. In some cases, this might mean pointing out the inconsistencies in a person’s thought processes and behaviors, helping the individual see that most of his or her problems are of the individual’s own making.

A Sponsor Can Help Grow Your Sober Network

Most people find their sponsors in a 12-step program, which is where a person will have the most luck finding people with years of experience with sobriety. A 12-step group is where people find a large portion of their sober network. 

A sponsor can also introduce his or her sponsee to many more sober individuals than just those in the 12-step homegroup. This person can be a great source for those who are newly sober and trying to establish a social life that doesn’t consist of substance abusers. It’s often said that surrounding oneself with people who support sobriety is one of the most important components of lasting sobriety.

Sponsors Can Serve as Family Away From Family

It’s not uncommon for people who go to a rehab that’s far away from home to remain in the city where the rehab was located, either permanently or for an extended period beyond treatment. In this new place, an individual doesn’t have any of his or her family or close friends, making the people he or she meets in treatment and support groups some of the most important social contacts he or she gains as a newly sober individual. 

When a person gets a sponsor, the close relationship between the sponsor and sponsee can mimic that of members of a family, which is a valuable feature for individuals who are in need of that close, familial connections.

Using Social Media in Recovery Helps People Stay Sober

Using social media in recovery can feel like a vulnerable move for people who are new to sobriety, but it can also be a boost of confidence necessary to keep them accountable. 

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can help build the kind of digital support system that can hold a recovering user’s hand as they embrace their recovery and become more social.

Though some people might say social media discourages online users from believing they’re living good lives compared to their friends’ status updates, the ease of digital communication can allow old and new friends to reach out to people in recovery and give them the support to remain sober.

In Active Addiction, People Stay Quiet Online

It’s estimated thatmore than 20 percent of the world’s population uses social networking to at least some degree, and 56 percent of Americans have at least one profile on a social media site. The largest age group is 18 to 29, making up 67 percent of all social media users.

With the advent of Facebook, people can now keep a digital track record on their “friends,” be it their neighbor or third-grade classmate. People post photos of exciting activities or new chapters in their lives, like their trip to the Bahamas or baby gender reveal parties. 

They share political opinions and articles from Vox or HuffPost. They like or “react” to funny and sad posts, and they say “interested” to every event, even ones they don’t plan on going to.

What most people don’t do is share their downward spiral into drug addiction.

In Stephanie Stark’s article, “Watching Friends Recover From Addiction on Facebook,” posted in The Atlantic, she writes about former high school classmates’ descent into heroin addiction. 

There’s a pattern among active users who begin to shy away from social media platforms such as Facebook because they’re still in denial about their addiction. They may be facing a quarter-life crisis and compare friends’ accomplishments with the lack of their own.

A part of why people don’t share their addiction via social media mainly lies in shame. Not many people would use the word “proud” when admitting to having an addiction, so it’s not likely that you’ll see your childhood friend post about stealing money for pills on Facebook.

Some Who Do Reveal Addiction via Social Media Met With Silence

The other issue is stigma rather than support.

You might have a friend who posts a lot of “party” pictures, seeing their head in the toilet or seeing them wasted or high while hanging out on the club scene. While this might have been acceptable in college, photos of reckless, drunk behavior aren’t held up to cheers and hoorahs anymore as the years go on past graduation.

And while some might say social media would give more opportunities to intervene an addiction once a pattern is spotted, the opposite is true. Posting about the throes of addiction will scare people away, not lead them to reach out.

“You can’t tell people, ‘I’m so sick, I’m dying, please give me money so I don’t have to go f*** the dope boy or go rob somebody,” said “Angela,” a former classmate of Stark’s, in the Atlantic article.

Because the reality is, while social media can give a peek inside someone’s life, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. The intensity and logistics of addiction will not be understood online, not by someone who feels helpless behind a computer screen.

How Using Social Media in Recovery Gets People to Speak Up

Where social media fails in helping those who struggle through active addiction, it can hugely benefit those who are new to recovery and eager to start their lives over.

“For heroin addicts, who must cut ties with their communities of users as part of recovery, Facebook is both a support system, connecting them back to relationships they had before their addiction, and a venue that helps others understand the fragility of the recovery process,” Stark writes.

Social media platforms allow people in recovery to call for help, share their struggles in recovery, and also have written accountability for their sobriety. Being able to post a status update for being 30 days sober to everyone you know is a lot more encouraging when met with an onslaught of heart reacts and supportive comments telling you to live positively and bravely day by day.

People in recovery can also keep better in touch via Facebook through scheduled events, forum groups, and live feed posts. In that, if a person didn’t have many friends to reach out to after rehab, they can easily build an online community and introduce themselves to nearby residents who are supportive of their journey.

Social media can motivate and inspire other people to pursue recovery, and as Stark’s friend, Angela, puts it, “You’ve seen that person down at their worst, and then [when] you see them looking happy, it’s like, ‘I can do this, too.'”

Is It Safe to Mix Energy Drinks and Alcohol?

Mixing energy drinks and alcohol can have severe, dangerous side effects. Caffeine is a substance that produces minimal effects except for hyperactivity. However, when combined with other drugs, it can overstimulate the heart, brain, and body.

Alcohol has been the most popular substance to combine with energy drinks since 2012, but research shows that combining a depressant drug (alcohol) and a stimulant (energy drink) can be fatal. So while this may be the popular party mixer for young adults, the decision to mix energy drinks and alcohol could spoil the party with a heart attack.

Energy Drinks and Alcohol? Is That Really a Thing?

“My parents never had energy drinks. They don’t get it,” said Nicholas Marsilio, 21, to The Washington Post. “Their energy drinks were coffee at two in the morning. … That’s definitely a generation switch.”

Energy drinks began to hit the market in the 1990s, with pioneer companies like Red Bull using a Thai recipe to give consumers an extra energy boost. Though the beginning sales were modest, come 15 years later to today, there are now hundreds of brands of energy drinks sold in grocery markets, vending machines, and even bars.

Ever heard of a Jägerbomb? This classic cocktail once used to be a shot of Jägermeister dropped into a pint of beer. But if you asked college students today, they’d tell you the recipe updated from beer to Red Bull.

And the notion of mixing energy drinks like Monster or 5-Hour Energy with alcohol is not a new phenomenon. Because alcohol is a depressant, some folks tend to get sleepy if they drink too much. So, how’s one supposed to spike the party without everyone dozing off before midnight? Energy drinks, of course.

Those who like the high-low combo aim to lower their inhibitions to enjoy socializing with others (a side effect from alcohol) while also having the energy to dance the night away and stay up ’til sunrise.

And if you’re still awake at a party, then you’re good enough to keep drinking until you’re not, right?

It’s no surprise that binge drinking rates among adults ages 18 to 25 went through the roof in the past five years as a result of energy drinks and alcohol drinking. The craze even set off specific brands of alcoholic energy drinks—namely Four Loko, Joose, and Tilt—that targeted college-age consumers, like modern-day versions of tobacco advertisements targeting kids none the wiser.

Rates of emergency room visits due to incidents related to alcoholic energy drinks more than doubled over just a five-year period, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban alcoholic energy drinks.

Mixing Alcohol with Caffeine Can Be Fatal, Studies Show

Those who know the tale of Elvis Presley’s demise know that combining depressant and stimulant substances is a toxic, lethal combination, ready to send a person’s heart into cardiac arrest. And though an energy drink may seem like a harmless caffeinated drink, it’s much more potent than advertised.

An average adult can handle 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Anything within 500 to 600 milligrams can lead to “caffeine intoxication” for adults, which is normally not fatal but can lead to uncomfortable effects, like increased heart rate, stomachaches, and anxiety.

But for children and adolescents (even so much as to the ages of 20 and 21), more than 200 milligrams of caffeine can be dangerous and even lead to death, which is why most medical professionals advise against giving energy drinks to young adults, even in high school.

Energy drinks can contain anywhere from 2.5 to 35.7 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, and some energy shots can have as much as 170 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. And while the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine allowed in soft drinks (71 milligrams per 12-ounce can), energy drinks are considered dietary supplements or food products and do not have to follow those guidelines.

Now, combine that with alcohol, and college students are basically speedballing in clubs.

If a college student goes on a binge drinking mission and uses energy drinks to stay awake, then the student is setting themselves up for double intoxication. Their heart rate will fight between getting faster or slower; they may go through a panic attack, induce severe vomiting, and potentially overwhelm their body physically to the point of cardiac arrest and death.

Too Much Energy, Not Enough Sense

Studies show that people who drink highly caffeinated energy drinks are significantly more likely to be involved in an accident and are much more likely to make a decision they will regret.

People who are drunk with too much energy aren’t going to want to slow things down; they’re going to want to drink more. Combining energy drinks and alcohol, to put it simply, is a fast track to alcohol poisoning, blackouts, and experimenting with other lethal substances that might lead to overdose.

People intoxicated from energy drinks and alcohol are more likely to engage in reckless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated. With too much energy brings too much confidence, allowing the drinker to become a danger to themselves.

If not intervened, this behavioral pattern of drinking in excess with energy drinks will only lead to the person getting hurt, harming others, or potentially death. If you notice someone may be taking the party too far by drinking energy drinks and alcohol on an alarming basis, it may be time to seek treatment.

Need Addiction Treatment? Call Us Now

Alcoholic energy drinks are clearly a major danger to those who abuse alcohol, but many other substances are just as dangerous for different reasons.

If you or someone you love is looking for an effective treatment program to end dependence on energy drinks or any other substance, call Ocean Breeze Recovery today. Our representatives are available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one begin the journey to sobriety. You can also reach us online.