Huffing and inhalant use in the military

Inhalant use on the rise in the military. But who’s doing anything about it? And just what are our troops inhaling anyways?

minute read

Ever heard of huffing?

It’s the practice of getting high on inhaling chemical gases.  If you’ve never witnessed huffing, just think “disoriented”.  Imagine kids inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons, for example and/or from whipped cream cans — called a “Whippit”.  Now imagine ensuing silliness and stumbling lack of consciousness.  Which can cause brain damage.  And heart damage.  And hearing loss.

Suffice it to say, huffing is not such a smart thing to do.

Sure, the nervous system is important…but some of today’s huffers  – military men and women back from the war in Iraq – seem willing to trade longevity for the emotional volatility, hallucinations, and/or distortion of perception that huffing brings.

So, what are our troops huffing with?




Lacquers & Thinners



Nail polish

Polish remover


Spray adhesive

Spray paint

Hair spray Use only “pump”

Whipped cream spray

Spray shortening

Magic markers

Dry erase markers

Whiteboard cleaning fluid

Rubber cement


Rexograph (ditto) fluid

Correction fluid

Janitorial Cleaners


Inhalant use on the rise in the military and as random drug testing does not detect inhalants, abuse needs to be more widely discussed and criticized in the armed forces. The problem with all of this is that the available products are legal, cheap, and easy to camouflage. Not to mention that military dudes don’t normally rat on one another… they get people to join them.  In fact, the military’s Health Behaviors of Our Troops has three chapters dedicated to substance abuse but not a mention of inhalants.

With my cousin getting ready to deploy for Iraq, I can’t wonder what kind of coping mechanism he’s going to chose when and if he returns. Will he be sniffing computer screen cleaners to get by? Correction fluid? Smelly markers?

Need help for a huffing problem?

Do you or a loved one have a problem with huffing during or after deployment? If you need help finding the best inhalants addiction treatment program for yourself or a loved one…learn more about available rehabilitation options, what does the process look like, and what you should do after rehab to maintain sobriety. More in this comprehensive guide on Inhalants Addiction Treatment.


Ready to seek help for quitting huffing NOW?

Call 1-877-265-7020.

Free and Confidential helpline is available 24/7.


About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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