Aerosol Spray Abuse | Everything You Need To Know

You’ve probably seen aerosol sprays in the news recently; common, household and store-bought items that are used by kids and teens as cheap (and dangerous) ways to get high like paint thinners.

So why aerosol spray? Why is it so dangerous, how can you spot signs of addiction and what can you do about it?

What Is Aerosol Spray?

Aerosol spray is a can of propellants and solvent; the propellant shoots the solvent, which is the collection of active ingredients, out of the can.

Here’s a list of everyday aerosol sprays that are commonly abused as drugs;

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Haircare products
  • Spray paint
  • Vegetable oil aerosols
  • Stain removers
  • Computer cleaners

 Aerosol Spray And Teenagers

Aerosol abuse happens so frequently among younger individuals because the substances kids and teens use to get high are commonly found in the cleaning cabinet or next to the laundry machine. This makes them very easy to obtain and very easy to deny using these aerosol sprays as drugs.

Common Street Names For Aerosol Sprays

You’ll most likely hear people referring to their aerosol drugs simply by the product’s brand name, as the products are not illegal and are common to talk about in everyday life. Other names for aerosol drugs include;

  • Airblast – a term for aerosols
  • Bagging – using aerosols
  • Bang – to inject aerosols
  • Huffing – to sniff aerosols
  • Glading – to use aerosols

How Are Aerosol Sprays Used As Drugs?

You may be asking yourself just how can everyday aerosol cans be used as drugs?

The most popular methods of use are;

  • Spraying– This involves spraying aerosols directly onto the user’s nose or mouth. Because of the tendency for the substance to get into the eyes, and because it makes it very hard for teens to keep these noxious sprays from getting onto nearby upholstery, this is generally not how kids and teens abuse aerosol sprays.
  • Bagging– Bagging involves spraying aerosol sprays into a plastic or brown paper bag and then inhaling the fumes from the bag.
  • Huffing– This involves spraying a rag until soaking, and then holding it up to the face.

Are alcohol and drugs ruining your life?

Find help now

What Are Aerosols Effects On The Brain?

The effects of aerosol sprays on the brain vary significantly, in part because so many different household items are used as aerosol drugs.

But, it is important to note that whatever is used, the effects of aerosol sprays can be likened to intravenously injecting substances. Why?

Once inhaled, the aerosol spray goes directly to the lungs. Because the lungs oxygenate the blood which is then sent to every corner of the body, aerosol sprays rapidly fill the blood with toxic chemicals.

Regardless of what is inhaled, the immediate effects of aerosol use include;

  • Headache
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Impaired motor function
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Wheezing

Long-term risks;

  • Heart attack
  • Depression
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hypoxia
  • Kidney, heart & liver harm
  • Pneumonia
  • Brain damage
  • Declining mental ability
  • Parkinson’s

Immediate, One-time Health Risks Of Aerosol Sprays

Aerosol sprays are one of the few drugs that pose immediate, life-threatening risks that don’t necessarily involve an overdose.

  • Frostbite of the throat- Some aerosols are stored in pressurized cans in which the solvent can be well below 32 degrees, even if the can is stored at room temperature. If users inhale the substance directly out of the can, the extremely cold solvent can cause frostbite of the throat
  • The danger of fire-  Many aerosols contain flammable, volatile organic compounds. When exposed to fire, there is potential for these volatile organic compounds to ignite. It’s therefore extremely dangerous to mix aerosols with smoking, which is a common combination.
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Heart attack- “Sudden sniffing death syndrome” is known to occur when abusing aerosols. Even first-time users can experience sudden cardiac arrest and death from abusing aerosols.

What Are The Signs Of Aerosol Spray Abuse?

The fact that aerosols are so commonplace in everyday life makes it very difficult to spot someone addicted to them. And while aerosol spray addiction is relatively uncommon, the rapid onset of the high from abusing aerosols makes it possible for users to get highly and rapidly addicted. Keep an eye out for these symptoms if you suspect someone close to you may be addicted to aerosol sprays;

  • “Sniffers rash”- A rash around the nose & mouth
  • Paint-like odor on the nose & skin, sweat may smell of paint too
  • Loss of appetite
  • Apathy
  • Decreased coordination
  • Constant sleepiness

Aerosol Spray Withdrawal Symptoms

Like every addictive substance, aerosol sprays are addictive, and the withdrawal symptoms may include;

  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent sweating
  • Irritability
  • Body pain
  • Tremors
  • Panic
  • attacks

Aerosol Spray Addiction Treatment Options

If you or someone you love is addicted to aerosol sprays don’t panic; you have options.

In order to minimize the risk of relapse and avoid falling back into the bad lifestyle habits that initially led to this addiction, finding an addiction treatment center with personalized treatment plans and expert advice is key.

Sunshine Behavioral Health operates a family of addiction treatment centers that cover every need and fit every budget and work with you and your insurance provider to find a treatment center that works best for you. We’re staffed by caring, trained specialists that help walk patients through the recovery process and ensure they start the path to taking back their life.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

Sunshine Behavioral Health Facilities


Chapters Capistrano


Monarch Shores


Mountain Springs


Willow Springs


Lincoln Recovery

Find out more about our admissions process