According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, the majority of inhalant abusers are between the ages of 12 and 18, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports. Most of these abuse household substances such as spray paint, hairspray and aerosol deodorant.
Users inhale aerosol deodorant using several different methods. "Huffing" is when users soak a rag or other cloth with the substance and cover their breathing passages with it. Some spray the substance directly into their nose or mouth. Some breathe the fumes or even hyperventilate inside a deodorant-coated paper or plastic bag.
Inhalants such as deodorant produce a fast high, coming on quickly and lasting only a few minutes. Their effects are alcohol-like, including slurred speech, clumsiness, dizziness and euphoria. Repeated use may produce lightheadedness, drowsiness or a headache, according to NIDA. Heavy and repeated use may result in a loss of consciousness.
Abusers of deodorant and other inhalants risk permanent damage to their brains or central nervous systems and, potentially, reversible damage to their livers and kidneys. Repeated sniffing of concentrated substances from aerosol cans may also induce sudden heart failure and subsequent death, a phenomenon known as "sudden sniffing death," according to NIDA.