USING INHALANTS TO OBTAIN A CHEAP HIGH IS NO LAUGHING MATTER IN MEDICAL AND LEGAL CIRCLES

Much attention has been devoted to the ill effects of drug and alcohol abuse. However,
there is an equally disturbing trend of people using household or industrial products to obtain a
“quick high” by inhaling the fumes from these items. These gases seem innocuous, but when
inhaled, they can be more dangerous than street drugs with life altering consequences. The abuse
of inhalants is not a problem limited to a specific segment of the population. Rather, it is a
widespread issue that has no economic, social or age related boundaries. Thirty-seven states have
enacted statutes concerning inhalant abuse. A few of these jurisdictions specifically focus on the
use of toxic vapors and fumes by minors and require mandatory counseling for offenders, and
others have placed limitations on the sale or distribution of these substances. However, the most
complex legal issue involves the use of inhalants while driving a motor vehicle and whether that
person can be convicted of driving under the influence. Logic suggests that the answer should be
the same as a person who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The outcome is not that simple and depends upon how the state’s DUI laws are drafted and whether
an inhalant falls within the contemplation of the legislation. This article will discuss the medical
implications of huffing and other similar practices. As well as the legal implications involving the
use of inhalants including the legislative responses to those who drive a motor vehicle while under
the influence of these chemical fumes.
The use of inhalants is a big concern since these products are legal and can
result in irreparable brain damage or death.
— Charles Curie