Inhalants are dangerous drugs that can cause adverse physical effects both short and long term. Inhalant drugs are some of the most deadly and are among the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers. Their misuse can have deadly consequences.
Inhalant drugs are a broad category of substances that are actually, in most cases, not drugs at all. They are substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled, sometimes referred to a “huffing,” and create a mind-altering effect when used. The effects of inhalant use are similar to those from alcohol intoxication.
Their popularity among teenagers is due to the easy accessibility, as many inhalants are commonly found household substances or easily purchased legally. They include:
- Amyl nitrite
- Butyl nitrite
- Hair spray
- Nitrous oxide (known as “poppers”)
- Paint thinner
- Spray paint
Some of these substances are found in other common products such as nail polish remover, spray deodorants, lighter fluid, whipped cream containers, and cleaning fluids.
When inhaled, these substances produce various effects on the body, the most common of which are:
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle weakness
All inhalants are highly dangerous, toxic substances that can damage various parts of the body, including the brain. Inhalants can cause major injuries and afflictions, depending on which is used. Among the serious affects that can occur are asphyxiation, choking on vomit, coma, mood swings, seizures, and temporary blindness.
Neurological damage can be significant, including cognitive disorders and seizures. In some cases, a person inhaling can, within minutes, suffer from sudden sniffing death syndrome. Even otherwise healthy people can succumb to the effects of inhalants on the heart, which can be shocked out of rhythm.
Inhalants can cause suffocation by lowering oxygen levels. Frequent abuse of these substances can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, or liver.
Inhalant Abuse Facts
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, surveys show that among those aged 12 and older, 21.7 million Americans have used inhalants at least once in their lives. Younger children are also using them. The institute found that 13 percent of 8th graders had used inhalants.
The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported some astonishing scope on inhalants:
- About 793,000 people aged 12 or older had used inhalants for the first time in the preceding 12 months.
- Sixty-eight percent of those users were under the age of 18.
- Inhalants are among the first abused substances for many children.
People use inhalants in different ways, including:
- Spraying substances from aerosol cans directly into the mouth or nose
- Sniffing or snorting fumes within containers
- Bagging, which involves inhaling or sniffing fumes out of a paper or plastic bag into which substances have been placed or sprayed
- Soaking a rag in an inhalant, stuffing it in one’s mouth, and “huffing”
- Filling balloons with nitrous oxide and inhaling
Once inhaled into the lungs, the chemicals are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Seconds later, the substances reach the brain and other organs.
Users will experience effects much like those experienced when using alcohol: slurred speech, difficulty coordinating movements; a sense of euphoria, and dizziness. Users may begin to experience delusions, hallucinations, and lightheadedness.
Understanding Inhalant Addiction
Inhalants are very dangerous, which means acting quickly is critically important. If you suspect someone in your life is suffering from inhalant addiction, look for the following inhalant abuse signs:
- Behavior that makes the person appear drunk or intoxicated
- Hidden or missing items such as aerosol cans, cotton ear swabs, cotton balls, paper bags, plastic bags, balloons, and markers
- Loss of appetite
- Wide pupils
Inhalant Recovery Programs
Treating inhalant addiction means addressing the underlying emotional issues that have led to the abusive behavior. The first stage at inhalant rehab centers is to address withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can have adverse physical effects on the body, but is an important step, allowing the body to detox from the harmful chemicals and cravings.
Inhalant withdrawal symptoms include:
Our inpatient, 90-day inhalant recovery programs treat the withdrawal symptoms in a supportive, safe, and secure setting. Our holistic approach looks at the physical and emotional needs of each our patients. Our detox program lasts at least 30 days, more than double that of traditional detox phases.
Our program involves physical activity, therapy, and behavioral training to help an addict learn the skills to deal with emotions or feelings that can trigger a desire to use. Our programs also include aftercare support including one-on-one followup and group therapy referrals to help our patients gain and maintain the skills and remain sober.