[ Skip to main content ]

This video about volatile substances, or 'huffing', is for New Zealand parents, caregivers, whānau and those working with young people to understand basic facts about inhaling substances, or huffing. Don't stop here, start a conversation.

Did you know that inhaling substances is commonly known as ‘huffing’.

There is no safe level of use, which can lead to ‘sudden sniffing death,’ even you only try it once.

Huffing is not very common in New Zealand. Only 1.2% of secondary school students have ever tried huffing to get out of it, and almost two thirds of those had only done it once. However, huffing lead to the deaths of 25 young people under 17 within 10 years. The youngest was only 12 years old.

Inhalants are taken into the lungs and directly absorbed into the bloodstream. These poisonous chemicals immediately reach the brain and the peak effect is felt for around a minute. Most people will experience a nasty hangover or headache, which can last for hours or days, depending on how much you inhale.

Huffing can make you feel floaty or drowsy, uncoordinated and slow to react, with blurry vision and unpleasant breath. It can lead to extreme aggression, depression, irreversible brain and organ damage, seizures, coma and death. Volatile substances are also highly flammable and can cause dangerous burns and explosions.

So, remember,

  • There is no safe level for inhaling solvents or volatile substances
  • Huffing can cause you serious harm
  • Always look out for your mates

Did you know...

These toxic chemicals are commonly found in New Zealand households? Using them to feel out of it is very dangerous but very uncommon. They are usually designed to be used as a poison, fuel, or cleaning product. Any use of these substances carries a risk of sudden death. They should always be avoided.


Turn on Samoan subtitles in the video at the top of the page via the closed caption (CC) menu of the YouTube player controls.


Download the poster (JPG, 286 KB)


Turn on Tongan subtitles in the video at the top of the page via the closed caption (CC) menu of the YouTube player controls.


Download the poster (JPG, 274 KB)


Request printed posters in any language on our Resources website.

This includes the complete Did You Know Conversation Guide which you can also view and download right now: A guide to conversations with young people about drugs and alcohol (PDF, 2.7 MB).

About Did You Know

These tools and resources were initiated by the Counties Manukau AOD Provider Collaborative and the New Zealand Drug Foundation with support from Odyssey. Expert advice and participation from young people were used in their development. Creative by Mohawk Media.

Creative Commons Licence

Did You Know is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.