By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Medical and mental health experts say one in five kids have tried it by 8th grade. Now, there is a push to educate parents and others about the dangers of huffing.

As Reg Chapman reports, huffing can cause serious injuries to those who ingest it and some who are in their path.

“You get high almost instantly. It causes motor retardation coordination problems in our thinking almost instantaneously,” said Dr. Joseph Lee.

Dr. Lee, medical director at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Plymouth, says huffing is the act of sniffing inhalants or chemicals found in many household products.

The chemicals starve the body of oxygen and then force the heart to beat irregularly.

“People who huff have to do it a lot,” Dr. Lee said. “The high doesn’t last very long.”

Dr. Lee says huffing is similar to being intoxicated by alcohol. Your reflexes slow down and your coordination is impaired, making it easy to make a mistake.

“DFE is the by-product that is inside Ultra Duster that people essentially get high off of,” said Clay Kendhammer.

Kendhammer knows all too well the impact of huffing. His brother, Adam, was with two friends, Jeremy Berchem and Bryan Rudell, when they were hit head-on by a car driving the wrong way down Interstate 94 back in 2017.

The driver of the wrong-way vehicle was the only person who survived the crash.

“We found out the driver was actually huffing and he was huffing a product called Ultra Duster,” Kendhammer said.

Dr. Lee says huffing is hard to detect unless the person is a chronic user. Huffing can cause permanent brain damage of heart arrhythmia.

“We should recognize this is probably more common than we think and that many of our loved ones could be in danger and we could be helping people before tragedy like this strikes,” Dr. Lee said.

Kendhammer worked to close a loophole in the law. Now, you can be charged with driving under the influence if you are found guilty of driving while huffing.

Reg Chapman