Gasoline Sniffing: Effects and Dangers of Huffing

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Gas sniffing often starts as an experiment or a temporary escape from everyday problems; however, this pattern of behavior often leads to addiction.
People who huff gasoline do so by putting a rag soaked in gas over their mouth or nose (huffing); collecting gas in a plastic bag and inhale it (bagging), or simply by sniffing it directly from the canister or a bottle (sniffing). Some users even drink alcohol along with their sniffing routine to enhance the effects of gas.

Once a person inhales the gasoline, it enters their lungs and then blood stream, through which all the dangerous substances are being transferred to the brain and other organs.

Sniffing Gasoline Effects

The effects of gasoline sniffing include slow reflexes, hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, speech problems, extroversion, and coughing. Due to high levels of hydrocarbons, gasoline acts as a central nervous system suppressant. Another dangerous ingredient in gasoline is lead, which induces hallucinations. A gasoline “high” will begin 1-5 minutes after huffing gasoline.

Dangers Of Huffing Gas

Gasoline sniffing can have many short- and long-term damaging effects on person’s body. Dangers of huffing gas include breathing problems, brain damage, immune system problems, heart, liver, and kidney damage, headaches, arrhythmia, seizures, coma, cancer, and death. Toxins from gas tend to accumulate in a user’s body which can result in major health problems.

From a social perspective, gasoline sniffing affects one’s relationships as well; due to their dependency on toxic fumes, a gasoline abuser is not able to maintain their social interactions or perform well at work. Furthermore, negative behavioral patterns may surface such as exhaustion, aggressive demeanor, and paranoia, which can lead to unemployment and consequently, financial problems.

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Sniffing Gas

Gasoline withdrawal symptoms tend to be mild. Most common withdrawal symptom related to sniffing gasoline include:

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hand tremors
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite

What are withdrawal symptoms of sniffing gasoline?

Gasoline Sniffing Treatment and Recovery

Needless to say, abstaining from huffing gasoline completely is the only solution for a person addicted to gasoline. Treatment and recovery are based on building a strong support system.
The user has to commit to the cause and change their life completely. This includes finding new ways to cope with everyday problems.
Most gasoline abusers as well as people huffing other household liquids are people from lower socioeconomic classes. According to studies, some gasoline sniffers have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, so gasoline, in essence, is their last resort. Finding a new and healthy coping mechanism can be a great challenge for users, as well as professionals who provide counseling. Building a strong support system is the key to a successful recovery.

Page Sources

  1. Ross C. A.. Gasoline sniffing and lead encephalopathy. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1982; 127(12): 1195–1197.
  2. Fortenberry J. D. Gasoline sniffing. The American Journal of Medicine. 1985; 79(6): 740-4.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Gasoline Sniffing and Lead Toxicity among Siblings -- Virginia . 1985.

Published on: November 18th, 2016

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


Leave a comment

  • Don spiva
    What are the effects it can make after a month?
    • Marcia
      i inhaled high levels of gas and drugs in my apartment i continues to have headaches until now can you help me. Thankyou
      • Mabel Buchanan
        Are u still out there using?
  • Bev
    My Granddaughter huffed gas and her behavior has changed she gets in trouble at school and there is no reasoning with her. She is only 11.
    • Bradolf Pitler
      God bless America
  • Lizz
    Jesus Christ..
    • Jan
      Hallelujah! He is the ONLY way to totally be delivered from ANY addiction. I was delivered from meth 34 years ago! And still going strong. God bless you forever!
  • Rocky
    I do it daily @ night…! Now i cant stop I think this will be the reason of my death….!
    • Tyler Brown
      Please find something else Anything else This is going to kill you if it has not already Get drunk Smoke weed ANYTHING ELSE
    • caleb
      hey man you can get treatment just talk to friends or family because you can change your life you just have to want to quit your life means more than a can of gas
    • Peter Gozinya
      Bro I used to do it all the time allegedly and would have fun but the next day when you wake up allegedly you really just question why did I even do that
    • Coda
      I love the smell of gas coming out the lawnmower or some vehicles exhaust. But I know it’s dangerous to just sit there and breath in such toxins. I use to notice this coughing I kept catching fir no reason until I looked up Has sniffing addictions and it made me realize I can’t be doing that anymore.
    • Sher
      I’m right there with you Rocky! It’s an addiction I need that smell… And I am in very bad health. Good luck to you this is an addiction like I’ve never had an a serious one. I have a bad heart I have just umpteen diseases and disorders and I have no idea why am doing this… I am an artist it started out with the paint thinner to clean my brushes and it went from there… God help us all I will pray for you if you pray for me !
  • Rodger Adams
    I have a classmate who is so addicted, he soaks his clothes in gas before the day starts so he can smell his clothes all day. He’s 17 now and hopes to be able to one day sniff jet fuel by the age of 20.
  • Kristin
    Just had effects from sniffing gasoline… I just loved the smell….got very sick this am and decided to stop sniffing right away…will going out to get fresh air help? How can I get better?
    • Tyler Brown
      Once will not f**k you up long term If you continue to use and cannot stop, ,you will die Lead poisoning, overdose, or heart lung and kidney failure are likely with long term use
  • Ganjaman
    I huffed gas when I was around 10 or 11. I remember hallucinating that aliens were talking to me and I pissed my pants. For the next few days I felt “off” and I thought I caused myself irreparable brain damage. I’m now 25 years old and I will NEVER huff gas ever again
    • Dawn Williams
      My sistes and I and some close friends huffed gas one time and we all got dejavo about the same thing at the same time, it happened twice, I’ll never forget it. You definitely hallucinate too, I thought i was in a mario world but everything looked mean so to speak. The last time I huffed gas though I swallowed my tongue, or so it seemed and I haven’t touched it since and never will again either..
  • robert meier
    Try enjoying life the sun, sky, grass, flowers, people that care, church, exercise, get a hobby, make a friend you know hook up,
    I get in my hand every few days i pull into the gas station and there gas trappedninbthe nozzle from the last customer and if im getting gas for sure.. i pray whtas lett on my hand and smell it.. burns my nostrils and I love it.. is this huffing.. smelling it in the car from the back of my hand.. smells so dam good.. but is this huffing
  • James
    I was a habitual and daily Huffer (gasoline) for 9 years. I now have an enlarged liver and no energy whatsoever. I believe that comes from my inability to take a good breath of air. Sometimes I feel that I will pass out or that I’m not breathing oxygen. It has caused me sleep onset paralysis where I wake up paralyzed and see demonic entities in my sleep. It has caused me central apnea due to the damage cost to my brain stem, I stop breathing and require a CPAP machine. I haven’t done anything if the sort in 8 years and still suffer from long term effects. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.
    • Ed
      I got addicted to huffing when I was 15, I’m now 36, my brain hallucinates 24 7, I’m constantly surrounded by evil entitys, I also experience madness, major depressive disorder and chronic anxiety, 26 years of psychiatric hell, shit and misery, f**k sake no human being deserves this, I blame the fact of having no parental supervision or anyone else who didn’t notice or intervene, past 4 months I’m using emeramide to remove the possible lead from my brain but not even sure if its working or if that even is the cause.
    • Sher
      Thank you James you helped a lot… Good luck to you
  • Bobb the gas junkie
    I am 22 and i have been huffing gas since the age of 10, about a half a gallon or more daily, my bones feel like im about 70 the pain is so bad it seems like huffing is the only way to sooth it. But i do not regret my decision and when death finds me i will rejoice.
    • Faris Jafrii
      Bob please keep me in touch.. I really want to discuss this with you.. please contact me
    • Sher
      That is sad dude… I will pray for you!
  • Anonymous
    I dont consider it an addiction in my case but it does help me relief my self… I do it be cause of the hallucinations… there in my shed I have met multiple celebrities.. talked to them, I did even fight Zac Efron. I have friends and I am loved by my parents but having those hallucinations keeps me asking for more. I get to be some sort of superhero and have even been made up new superheroes that arent even out yet. Its kind of weird, but I just realy enjoy it
    • Christian
      If you are willing to risk your life to “meet celebrities” your addicted dude. Im not lecturing you because I am also addicted. Hardcore. i do it everyday and ive almost died multiple times
  • Nathan
    I’m 14. I was huffing gas and In big amounts and I zoned out for 1 sec or something . Anyways I start to see big flashes of white light and my whole body was numb (not high)And I tried to move but I couldn’t and I passed out I woke up like 5 sec later and I could see the white flashing lights again but brighter. I was able to get up and I just started running . I think I was abt to die because if the flashing lights . I almost passed out or died and that why I stated running . (What does it mean if you see white flashing lights)
    • Candy Jackson
      I had a similar experience.
  • Bob
    May God be with your friend
  • Anthony Riutta
    I sniffed gasoline fumes straight from the tractor gas tank not allowing any oxygen in. I would take many deep breaths and then lay on the ground and spin. Many days in a row. I was maybe 15 then and now I’m 65. I feel I’ve been affected by it already 30 yrs ago I started to get fears, paranoia, anxiety and many terrible uncontrollable thoughts! Sad
    • Christian
      If it took 20 years for the bad side effects to show up, it probably wasnt gas. less than 2 weeks after i started huffing gas, I had side effects. Their are times when someone will say something and the word will sound weird and trigger sum in me and i would feel high for a couple seconds.
  • priya
    i am 28 and do this still but not on daily basis…i only have neurological syncope and nothing else i sniffed deodrant ,petrol, nailpolish remover, dettol fumes……any idea how long it will take to cause death
  • Random advice guy
    If you have brain famage from huffing, then lead probably isnt doing it. It may be due to brain damage. But, i would stay on that drug just in case it is lead, it’s about a 50/50 for you, friend. If it is madness because of brain damage, just make lemonade with the lemons, man.
  • bra duka
    i sniffed petrol for a year in 2005 (i was 11 years old that time). it made me see a big anaconda(snake) coming straight at me and i would start running.
  • Rose
    Great page…some people don’t think this is a problem…
  • RoseE
    I think the attraction to huffing gasoline is the the ethanol. It strong odor is attracting like a certain type of perfume we have love to smell though the perfume could/would not kill us. We have to try to deal with our problems in a more constructive method. I have done it once a week or I would be clean for 2 weeks even up to the month but smelling the ethanol drives me back. Even if it’s once a week I have to stop. An addiction is a loss of control – and we’re giving that control to a product that is harmful just like when we give control to a toxic person. We have to be strong enough to walk away. Best of luck to you.
    • Tammy
      My daughter has been sniffing a rag of gas lately and carries a container of gas in the trunk. Shes an opiate addict. Now the gas. I asked her to stop. Her eyes are all glassy. Im so scared. She says its nothing n ignores me. I dont get it. She takes sedatives as well. I know money is tight. Iis this easy high cause of no money? I think its her escape. How can i make her stop! I dont want to loose her. Shes 34 w a baby!
  • Mabel Buchanan
    Great article I suffer and it’s recent and was worried about effects on body. I’m happy to say this is a starting out point for me to do some research to stop using.
  • Maken
    I’m 28 when I was 11 I huffed gas for 4 months straight, until my parents caught me, and beat my ass lol. But gasoline is addictive. What made me keep doing it was the hallucinations and the highs of course but most of all the sweet sweet smell, it’s smells so amazing. One time I seen a skeleton coming after me and another time I seen a baby deer and so much other weird shit. It’s not good to do the consequences I suffered after suck balls, everyday I’m fatigued, headaches, nausea, anxiety, paranoia etc etc. when ever I got to the gas station I just smell and consider that my “fix” for the day or whatever I’ll never go back to huffing it’s not worth it. <3