What Are the Dangers of Sharpie Markers?

The strong stench of a Sharpie marker is a nuisance to some, yet a tool to get high for others. Sharpies emit toxic fumes that you or your child can sniff to enter a short euphoric state. Also known as "huffing" or "sniffing," many children are taking part in this dangerous habit.


Inhalants, including Sharpie markers, can cause severe illness, such as neurological damage or even death. An inhalant is characterized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as "breathable chemical vapors that users intentionally inhale because of the chemicals' mind-altering effects." Other examples of inhalants include cleaning solvents and paint cans 1.


Continuous exposure to inhaling Sharpie markers can lead to unconsciousness. Many young people, however, are testing the boundaries and becoming addicted to the effect of inhalants. Sniffing items such as Sharpies for intoxication purposes can lead to further substance abuse problems. Inhalants are a gateway drug, which means that they do not contain addictive properties but may lead to the use of harder, addictive drugs.

Signs of Inhalant Abuse

Pay attention to your child to identify the warning signs of possible inhalant abuse. A telltale sign of inhalant abuse is a constant bloody nose. Further physical signs include spots and sores around the mouth, red eyes and nausea. Inhalant abusers may also suffer from nausea and have a constant aroma of chemicals on clothes or the body. Slurred speech and unexplained anger and anxiety are also common symptoms of huffing or sniffing.