Of all the dumb things a lawyer sees criminals do to themselves, huffing is right up there at the top. It’s probably second on the all-time-bad-to-do-to-yourself championship list. I haven’t had a case where some guy hit himself in the head with a hammer or a 2×4 but those would be number one on the list, followed very closely behind by huffing. Unbelievably, I have actually heard of some huffers around here doing it as a kind of competitive sport.
What is huffing, you ask? Well I’m laughing while I write this but huffing is the practice of filling a plastic bag with dangerous chemical fumes of some kind and then inhaling it to get the full effect of the benzene, toluene, xylene, acetone, 1,1-difluoroethane, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (whatever that is), you know – stuff that’s going to kill you. Literally.
These are really dangerous household and industrial chemicals, people. For some reason spray paint is really popular with the huffing set in my area. Some dummies even try to do it with gasoline but I’ve never talked to one. Maybe they don’t live long enough to get appointed a defense lawyer. Supposedly after a while the gasoline fumes create a strong addiction response. Huffers start to really like it and then they die.
I have, though, talked to a few local huffers and I’ve asked them why they prefer spray paint. Basically they say it gives them the best freaky high. I bet it does. The solvents used in spray paint also kill your brain but assuming they live long enough for that to happen, it won’t occur for years. It happens slowly so they probably won’t even notice. In the mean time, huff on!
I’ve got some great pictures of famous huffers. Well, famous on the internet, anyway. These idiots were so brain-dead that they forgot to wipe the spray paint off their face. I’m just guessing here, but do you think the insides of their mouths, their throats, and their lungs look a little bit like their chins? What on Gods Green Earth are these people thinking?
The paint on your face and in your lungs is bad enough, but here’s the weird part about huffing. Your lungs absorb the dangerous chemicals really fast so the “high” hits your brain hard. It doesn’t last long, and huffers get an excruciating headache as it fades away. The headache is supposed to last for hours. I would think that after one or two major migraine scale headaches from huffing you would figure out what’s causing it and . . . um . . . maybe try to avoid all that pain? Ten or fifteen minutes of a strange spacey “high” doesn’t seem worth the cost, especially if you end up slow in the head and looking like one of these geniuses.
Huffers feel that spacey high because the chemicals got in their bloodstream and are washing all over their brains. The chemicals kill brain cells, and when brain cells are gone they don’t come back. Then a huffer’s kidneys and liver are damaged as they try to get rid of the stuff in their bodies, leading to all kinds of serious problems. Huffer’s nervous systems are also affected as they are exposed to large amounts of dangerous chemicals their bodies are not equipped to handle. All of these things lead to nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, wheezing, and the smell of the chemicals in a huffer’s sweat. And lets not forget that the constant state of toxic chemical exposure puts too much strain on a huffer’s heart muscles. Their hearts become overworked and are damaged in response to the toxins, and that leads to heart attacks, strokes, and death.
One of the other ways huffers die is from suffocation. It happens a lot with first time users because they don’t know when to stop. Supposedly 22% of the huffers who die every year are first time users. They take a huge ‘toke’ out of the plastic bag and too much of the bad chemicals overload their lungs. Their bodies can’t take in oxygen and they pass out, and at the same time the chemicals affect their lungs in a way that basically makes them unable to breathe for a little while. No oxygen and no lung function means you die.
Lastly, and certainly not the least of the ways huffing kills people, is the strange case of butane. Butane has many industrial uses but it usually shows up with huffers in small canisters for refueling camp stoves or in common cigarette lighters. Huffers spray it directly into their mouths or from a hose if the butane is packaged in a large bottle, maybe as a kind of refrigerant. It is supposed to give a decent huffer high for a few minutes, but the problem is that it when it is sprayed it expands rapidly. That transforms it from a liquid at room temperature into a frozen gas that is as cold as -20° Celsius. It instantly freezes the huffer’s throat and lungs. As you can imagine, it causes severe internal injuries, swelling so that you can’t breathe, and a slow, agonizing death. Not a good way to go, people.
Some huffers also get really bad skin reactions to the toxic chemicals. Swelling and what doctors call “glue sniffer’s rash” around their nose and mouth are pretty common. I haven’t been able to find a picture of the rash but the next time I can I’ll take one and post it here.
I want to close this post with the cases of the unfortunate young men below. Huffing went horribly wrong for them but apparently they both lived to regret it. No word yet if they’re permanently a lot slower than usual but I doubt they scored prom dates this year: