About Huffing and Chroming

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Huffing and chroming are dangerous behaviors that involve the intentional inhalation of toxic fumes – often from common household substances – for the purpose of achieving a recreational high. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there have historically been differences between huffing and chroming.

What Are Huffing and Chroming?

Dangers of huffing and chroming Huffing is a broad, general term that is often used to describe all forms of inhalant abuse. It originally referred to the practice of soaking a rag with substances such as paint thinner, hair spray and other aerosols, or solvents; placing the rag near one’s nose and mouth; and breathing in (or huffing) the fumes.

Chroming originally described the process of spraying paint into a paper bag, then holding the bag over one’s mouth and nose and inhaling the fumes. People who abused inhalants in this manner often ended up with a ring of paint residue on their face, which led to the term “chroming.”

Though these terms have strayed a bit from their initial meanings, to the point that they are now often treated as synonyms, we will be discussing them here today as two distinct types of inhalant abuse, both of which can have devastating consequences.

Dangers of Huffing Drugs

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified the following dangers of huffing or engaging in other forms of inhalant abuse:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme confusion
  • Delusional thinking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated risk of other forms of substance abuse
  • Addiction
  • Death

Dangers of Chroming

Chroming, or intentionally breathing in paint fumes, can also cause considerable harm. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the possible dangers of chroming include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Seizure
  • Damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys
  • Long-term cognitive impairments
  • Muscle control difficulties
  • Development of neurological conditions
  • Death

Can You Get Addicted to Huffing or Chroming?

It is rare – but not impossible – for someone to become addicted to huffing, chroming, or other forms of inhalant abuse. The substances that are used for huffing and chroming don’t pose the same risk of addiction that alcohol, opioids, or many other recreational drugs do. However, as we emphasized in the first sentence of this paragraph, a low risk is not the same thing as a nonexistent risk:

  • Repeated huffing or chroming can transform from an occasional behavior into a compulsion. 
  • In such cases, people may find it extremely difficult to stop huffing once they’ve begun, or to control how often they engage in chroming.
  • People who frequently abuse inhalants may also develop tolerance, which means that they need to inhale larger or more potent amounts to achieve the effects they are seeking.


These symptoms – powerful urges, an inability to stop, and the development of tolerance – are all classic signs of addiction. Someone who exhibits these signs and symptoms may need professional help to stop huffing and chroming.

Signs Someone Is Huffing Drugs

How to tell if someone is huffing or chroming chemicals Huffing, chroming, and other forms of inhalant abuse are most common among adolescents and teenagers. Young people who engage in this type of substance abuse typically try to hide their behaviors from parents and other responsible adults, but certain signs can give away their secret.

The following are potential warning signs that someone has been huffing:

  • Glassy, watery eyes
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Problems with focus and concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Acting with uncharacteristic anger or irritability
  • Frequent chemical smell on their body, clothing, and/or breath
  • Frequently having paint, glue, or other residue on their hands, face, and/or clothing
  • Possessing paint, glue, solvents, rags, or other supplies for no apparent reason
  • Appearing disheveled, as though they are ignoring their grooming and hygiene
  • Loss of appetite and resultant unintentional weight loss
  • Sudden, unexplainable downturn in the quality of their schoolwork
  • Lying or being otherwise deceptive about where they’ve been, what they’ve been doing, and who they’ve been associating with
  • Pulling away from family and friends
  • No longer participating in sports, hobbies, clubs, or other activities that used to be important to them


Anyone who has been exhibiting these signs may be in crisis. As we noted above, huffing and chroming are far from harmless behaviors. If you suspect that someone in your life has been huffing, talk to them about the value of getting professional help before it’s too late.

Help for Huffing Addiction

If you are seeking help for an addiction to huffing or chroming, it is important to understand your options before you select a treatment center.

For example, treatment for huffing addiction can occur at many levels, including:


Centers that offer multiple levels of care may be better prepared to provide you with the focused services that align most closely with your needs and goals.

Many people who have struggled with huffing have also been living with anxiety, depression, or another mental health challenge. Finding a treatment facility that offers dual diagnosis programming can ensure that you receive proper care for all of the concerns that have been negatively impacting your life.

Contact Our Los Angeles Detox and Rehab Center at Renewal Health Group 

Renewal Health Group is a trusted provider of comprehensive, personalized care for individuals whose lives have been disrupted by huffing, chroming, and other forms of inhalant abuse. Our rehab centers in and around the Los Angeles area are welcoming and supportive places where you can receive customized services from a team of highly skilled professionals. Working together, we can prepare you for a much healthier and more hopeful future, free from the dangers of huffing and chroming.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

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