What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are common products found in homes and communities, such as air fresheners, bleach and even gasoline. The individual will deliberately sniff or inhale these everyday products in hopes of producing a euphoric high. While the individual is looking to achieve a extreme high they are putting themselves at a serious health risk, even putting themselves in danger of death.

There are over 1,400 products that are abused as inhalants, possessing health risks and even death. Easy to come by products such as; air conditioning coolant, gasoline, propane, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, paint, and glue, are intentionally inhaled to get high. These products are found in the home, school and all throughout our communities.

Inhalant Abuse and Teens

Inhalants are commonly abused amongst teenagers and young adults because they are legal, easy to access and inexpensive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one in five American teens have used Inhalants to get high. Inhalant abuse holds a high risk of dependency, many people will require medical treatment to overcome this addiction. The abuse of these common products are also looked at as a “gate way drug” because many teens and young adults who experiment with inhalants will move to illicit drugs and alcohol in the near future.

Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant abuse is a growing problem throughout the nation. Mainly teens and young adults abuse inhalants, however older adults too can fall victim to the temptation of inhalant abuse. According to the a National Institute on Drug Abuse report, nearly 23 million Americans have abused inhalants at least once in their life.  Common products found in our homes, work places, schools and throughout our communities are intentionally misused with the purpose of getting high.

The high produced by inhalants can cause the abuser to quickly develop an addiction, requiring the inhalant to experience pleasure and relaxation. The abuse of inhalants comes with a price; the abuse is damaging their airway, lungs, brain and other vital organs with each use, some have paid the ultimate price with their life.

How are Inhalants Used?

Products used as inhalants are sniffed, snorted, bagged (fumes inhaled from a plastic bag), or “huffed” (inhalant-soaked rag, sock, or roll of toilet paper in the mouth) as a way of inhaling the fumes to produce the desired high. The toxic fumes from the inhalant enter directly into the lungs, spreading to the blood stream and making its way up to the brain where it produces the desired high. As these toxic fumes are filtered by the body they pass through the live and kidneys, causing damage and even death.

Signs of Inhalant Abuse

A person abusing inhalants may exhibit some if not all of these physical and behavioral signs of inhalant abuse:

  • Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Paint or other products commonly used as inhalants on face or fingers
  • Red or runny eyes or nose
  • Nausea and/or loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Trouble at school or work
  • Difficulties in personal relationships
  • Legal troubles
  • Hanging out with a new crowd of people
  • Irritable, anxious and even aggressive

Inhalant Withdrawal Symptoms

Inhalant withdrawal typically will begin within as little as a few hours from its last use, often reaching a peak within 3 days and subsiding within one week. The symptoms of withdrawal and duration vary with the individual person, factors such as length of time abusing inhalants, how often and what type of inhalant is abused will determine this. Commonly symptoms of inhalant withdrawal are:

  • Hand tremors
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pains
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression


Inhalant Addiction Treatment

Inhalants are found everywhere, this makes it difficult for an person addicted to inhalants to quit cold turkey, the temptation can be too much. To ensure their success in sobriety, preventing relapse and ensuring their health it is advised to enter into an addiction treatment facility for supportive care. There the person will receive the treatment they need to overcome their addiction in a safe, therapeutic and temptation free environment.

Aspects to the Treatment Process

  • Individualized treatment plan
  • Medical Detoxification
  • Individual Counseling
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Group Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Chemical Dependency Education