Huffer's High Hits Brain Hard
Study Shows Chemical in Spray Paint, Glue Affects Brain Like Harder Drugs
Jan. 10, 2007 -- "Huffing" -- sniffing products like spray paint or
glue to get high -- may affect the brain the same way harder drugs, like
A new study shows inhaling toluene, a compound commonly found in products
like paint thinner and glue, triggers the release of dopamine in the brain of
Dopamine release is associated with a feeling of euphoria and is linked to
Although many young people may view huffing as a harmless party drug, the
researchers say their results suggest toluene activates the brain in the same
way illegal drugs like cocaine do and that inhalant abuse may lead to drug
Inhaling toluene can also cause brain damage and sudden death.
Huffing Hits Brain Hard
In the study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers
applied concentrations of toluene similar to those found in humans after
"huffing" to the brains of rats, then measured the response.
They found the drug was quickly absorbed by brain tissue and directly
activated the release of dopamine (DA) in the brain.
In addition, the magnitude of the release did not decrease with prolonged
exposure to toluene.
The researchers say the study shows the effects of inhalant abuse on the
brain may be more serious than previously thought.
Earlier conclusions that the huffer's high is caused by something other than
dopamine release "may be premature," write researcher Arthur C. Riegel,
of the department of pharmacology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and colleagues.
"Furthermore, given the alarming increase in inhalant abuse among youth,
additional studies examining the interaction of toluene and other inhalants
with the [dopamine reward] pathway are warranted," they write.