Air Duster Abuse and Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Air duster is canned air that is used to clean computers and other devices or objects that cannot be cleaned with other methods. Huffing air duster or compressed air is one way people get high. Although it sounds relatively harmless to huff canned air, the “air” that is contained in these household aerosol cans is actually liquidized gas chemicals.
Inhaling the gases from an air duster produces a very brief but euphoric high and side effects such as hallucinations and dizziness, among many others. Since it can be easily found at home or purchased at a store, air duster is a prime drug of abuse for younger teens, although adults may also misuse these household items to get high.
Air duster is classified as an inhalant because it is not intended to be misused to get high, but it frequently is. Unfortunately, the life-threatening dangers of air duster are often underestimated because it’s difficult to obtain accurate data on the number of air duster deaths as related deaths are often caused by fatal injury or some other indirect consequences.
When a person uses an air duster to get high, they inhale large amounts of toxic chemicals, which then pass from the bloodstream into the brain. This results in the death of brain cells and brain damage.1 Over time, this can cause serious permanent damage and the person may develop a substance use disorder.
Huffing these fumes is known as an “air duster high” and it can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. However, people seeking a quick and easy high will huff air duster to experience the euphoria and hallucinations, regardless of the many risks. An air duster high is very brief and only lasts a few minutes. Often, people will continue to huff over a span of several hours to extend the high.2
The following terms are street names or slang for air duster abuse:
- Can of sunshine
- Sunshine can
- Wha wha’s
- Brain duster
Air duster addiction is rare, but it can happen if a person huffs canned air regularly. Although most people who abuse air duster are teens, young adults and adults over the age of 26 are just as prone to becoming addicted if they misuse inhalants often.
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 2 million Americans ages 12 or older misused inhalants in the past year. Of those users, 2.7 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 and 1.5 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 were inhalant users. About 0.4 percent of adults ages 26 or older were inhalant users.3
Someone who abuses air duster may also become curious about other drugs that can produce a stronger, longer-lasting high. This may encourage additional drug abuse and result in substance use disorders involving other harmful illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, or heroin.
Air duster abuse is common among people who are looking for an easy, cheap high. Air duster is inexpensive, legal, and easy to obtain because it’s a household item. Many people who huff air duster may view it as a thrilling and fun experience instead of what it truly is: dangerous substance abuse with lasting consequences.
Abusing air duster comes with many negative and harmful side effects.
Short-term effects of huffing air duster include:4
- Lack of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Slurred speech
- Tingling in arms and legs
- Delayed reflexes
- Sudden sniffing death
Chronic and long-term abuse of air duster can also cause:4,5,6
- Muscle spasms
- Mood swings
- Damage to vital organs like lungs, heart, liver, kidney, and brain
- Hearing loss
- Bone marrow damage
- Delayed behavioral development
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Psychological problems
- Death by suffocation, cardiac arrest, seizures, coma, choking, or fatal injury while intoxicated
Like many other drugs, it is possible to overdose on inhalants. This occurs when a person uses too much air duster and has a toxic reaction. Symptoms of inhalant overdose may include:1
- Sudden sniffing death
It may be difficult to detect some signs of air duster abuse, but there are a few outward signs and symptoms of air duster abuse to watch for.1
- Slurred speech
- Rash, spots, or sores near the mouth
- Difficulty walking or coordinating movement
- Chemical-smelling breath
- Acting drunk
- Chemical smell or stains on skin or clothes
- Lots of absences from school or work
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent nausea
If you think your child or loved one is abusing inhalants like air duster, talk to a health professional. Many parents don’t realize the serious dangers associated with air duster abuse, but it’s ideal to know which types of household products can pose a danger to kids. It’s also important to know the slang terms used to describe air duster abuse, be aware of the warning signs of abuse, and talk to children about the dangers of abusing air duster and other inhalants.
People who have developed an addiction to air duster may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person, depending on how much they used, what kind of inhalant they abused, how long they have been using, and other individual health factors.
Physical symptoms of air duster withdrawal can include:1
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
Withdrawal from any drug can be very uncomfortable, unpredictable, and sometimes even life-threatening. It is always recommended that inhalant abusers consult professional medical assistance if they experience withdrawal.
A medical detox program can provide safe, medical monitoring for someone who is severely addicted to air duster and is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox can also provide referrals for ongoing behavioral treatment at a drug rehab center.
Not everyone who abuses air duster will need to go to drug rehab, but those who become addicted can greatly benefit from behavioral therapy and professional addiction treatment. Medical detox is an excellent start to the process, as it addresses the physical aspects of recovery and helps the client achieve a stable and sober state. Once detox is complete, continuing treatment with a long-term drug rehab program is often recommended.
Research shows that long-term treatment lasting at least 90 days provides the most beneficial and lasting results for people in recovery. With a structured living environment, professional support, and a focus on the whole person, long-term drug rehab can help a person adjust to a life of sobriety and learn how to live a life without substance abuse.
If you are considering going to drug rehab for air duster addiction, here’s what you can expect to experience during your treatment program:
- Educational sessions about addiction and recovery
- Life skills development
- Relapse prevention
- Structured living environment and recovery programming (12-Step Program or similar program)
- Individual counseling sessions
- Group counseling sessions
- Family counseling sessions and workshops
- Participation in specialized therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, etc.
Depending on your treatment needs and the severity of your air duster addiction, either a residential program, outpatient program, or both may be the best course of action for you. While both types of drug rehab programs are recovery-oriented, here are the differences between the two.
In residential rehab, clients:
In outpatient rehab, clients:
An addiction treatment professional can help you determine which type of drug rehab program is right for you.
Depending on the type of rehab program you choose, the cost will also vary. The cost of drug rehab largely depends on factors like the facility’s location, amenities, and the types of services offered. However, most drug rehab centers provide several different forms of payment to relieve the financial burden and help you pay for rehab. These may include:
- Health insurance benefits
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Financed healthcare loans
- Credit cards
- HSA funds
Once you’ve completed rehab for air duster addiction, you may also choose to continue your treatment with a supportive aftercare or sober living program. These types of recovery services are aimed at helping people in recovery achieve a stable lifestyle of long-term recovery. They also help prevent relapse, especially in the early stages of recovery.
Sober Living Programs
Sober living homes are designed to support people in recovery during the early phases of recovery after rehab. Sober houses provide safe, structured living environments that are free from drugs and alcohol. They also offer recovery support services such as:
- Tiered recovery programming
- Peer monitoring programs
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Educational planning
- Employment assistance
- Volunteer placement
Depending on the sober living home’s location, amenities, and services offered, the cost will vary. Sometimes scholarships may also be available.
Aftercare programs are designed for graduates of drug rehab programs who are transitioning into an independent sober lifestyle. This type of treatment is intended to provide professional and peer support with group counseling sessions that are hosted in a safe, clinical environment.
Clients attend a series of meetings and may also be enrolled in a sober living program simultaneously. Aftercare is also ideal for people in recovery who are experiencing difficult circumstances or are in transitional life stages, such as moving to a new state, losing a loved one, or recovering from a relapse.
Air duster addiction may seem unlikely but it can quickly overtake your life. If you’re struggling with air duster abuse or addiction, help is available now. Call Nova Recovery Center at (512) 605-2955 to speak with an admissions specialist today.
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