Doctors are warning of the risks of ‘huffing’ after pop star Aaron Carter passed out and drowned in his bathtub after sniffing an aerosol duster.
The former-Nickelodeon star, 34, had difluoroethane in his system at the time of his death, his autopsy report revealed Tuesday.
The gas is the main ingredient in many aerosol dusters and cleaners but is sometimes abused for its ability to cause intense lightheadedness.
These sensations are caused by the gas denying the brain oxygen, leading to the death and brain cells and permanent damage in some cases.
The autopsy for singer Aaron Carter revealed that he drowned in his bathtub after consuming Xanax and huffing ahead of his death at 34 last year. Pictured in February 2022 in Las Vegas
Difluoroethane is a chemical used in aerosol keyboard cleaners. When inhaled it can cause a person to suffer an intense high and lightheadedness (file photo)
Experts warn that huffing is popular among young teenagers looking for an easy high using materials easily available in the home.
Abuse of devices such as air dusters is linked to breathing issues, nausea, vomiting, an abnormal heart rate and depression of the nervous system.
Huffing leads to an almost immediate effect, according to HC Drug Free, a Columbia, Maryland-based addiction treatment center.
After the chemical is huffed, the gasses quickly enter the lungs and enter the alveoli — air sacs in the lung responsible for transporting oxygen into the bloodstream.
These chemicals then enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, where they cause the feeling of being ‘high’ – which can last up to 45 minutes.
It is unclear whether this is how Mr Carter got the chemical into his system.
A 2020 report by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston warned: ‘Inhalant abuse, also known as huffing, is common among teenagers and adolescents in the United States and worldwide.
‘Inhaled aerosols are dangerous due to both the presence of volatile hydrocarbons causing direct organ damage and the risk of the compressed air causing physical trauma.’
Other potential harms include suffocation or asphyxiation, as oxygen in the lungs becomes displaced, seizures caused by abnormal brain activity or entering a coma.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also warns some users may suffer fatal heart complications after just their first huff.
‘This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person,’ the agency warns.
‘Sudden sniffing death is associated particularly with the abuse of butane, propane, and chemicals in aerosols.’
Other items people huff include gas canisters, glue, paint, gasoline, felt pens and markers, hair spray, aerosol deodorant and cleaning products.
An estimated 2.2million Americans have abused inhalants, according to NIDA. This includes up to four percent of eighth graders in the US.
Also found in Mr Carter’s system was the anti-anxiety medication alprazolam.
Sold under the name Xanax, the drug is a highly addictive fast-acting medication that causes a subdued and euphoric feeling in users.
Xanax falls into a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, along with others such as Klomopin, Valium and Ativan.
People who ‘huff’ will put the chemical on a rag or bag of some sort before sniffing it in (file photo)
Also known as ‘benzos’, these substances are highly addictive and their intense side effects have made them popular party drugs.
A person who uses the drugs each day to manage severe cases of anxiety could become dependent on them in a matter of weeks, studies suggest.
The body builds tolerance to the drugs as well, meaning frequent use will need more and more over time to control their addiction.
It is unclear whether Mr Carter received this drug through a doctor or illegally.
Officials believe the combination of these two drugs in Mr Carter’s system caused him to pass out and drown in his tub.