New Study Warns "Huffing" Popular Among 12-Year-Olds

FRESNO, Calif. Commonly known as "huffing," sniffing household products like shoe polish and air fresheners to get high is a practice that has been around for years. But a new study released Thursday by the substance abuse and mental health services administration shows some startling statistics involving pre-teens.

Between 2006 and 2008, 6.9-percent of 12-year olds admitted to using inhalants. That's more than the 5.1 percent who used prescription drugs and the 1.4 percent of marijuana users, combined.

Justin Olford of Fresno was a teenager when he started "huffing" whip cream cans. He's now 23, and a recovering oxycontin addict. He says finding household products to get high is simple, and becoming addicted is even easier.

"If that's the first one you do, and it's a quick high and gets you curious to wonder what, well now what's smoking weed going to do to me, what's pills going to do to me, what's something that lasts longer than this?"

At Capitol Hill Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services held a news conference to discuss the new study and warn parents about the growing trend among 12-year-olds.

Flindt Andersen of Fresno, who founded PAIN, Prescription Abusers in Need, says to prevent "huffing", parents need to observe any changes in their child's behavior. They should also know where certain products are kept in their home.

"Parents normally don't have a clue and usually they find out until it's too late or at least until the child needs treatment whether its inpatient or outpatient."

Specific warning signs that someone has been huffing include confusion, watery or glassy eyes and slurred speech. Some household products even carry warning labels aimed at preventing this practice.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.