Signs and Symptoms of Inhalants Use, Abuse, Addiction & Facts

What Are Inhalants? How Are They Used/Ingested?

The term “inhalants” applies can be applied to a range of products that are abused to get high. Most inhalants are common household products easily available in the in United States. People abuse them to try to achieve a state of disorientation or euphoria.

The following products are among the most readily available and abused:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Gasoline
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Spray paint
  • Glue (especially model glue)
  • Cooking spray
  • Whipped cream
  • Spray cleaning fluids
  • Correction fluid
  • Freon (in freezers and air conditioning units)

Also called “huffing”, inhalants are a popular and extremely dangerous way for many minors to get high. The chemicals contained in commonly abused inhalants include acetone, butane, propane, fluorocarbons, ethyl chloride and nitrous oxide.

A few common names for inhalants are:

  • Snappers (amyl nitrite)
  • Poppers (amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite)
  • Whippets (fluorinated hydrocarbons, found in whipped cream dispensers)

Inhalant abuse usually occurs by inhaling the fumes from the substances. Sometimes the inhalant abuser will spray the inhalant into a rag or bag that is placed in front of his or her nose or mouth. Sometimes users will inhale directly from the inhalant’s container.

What Are the Symptoms of Inhalant Use?

Inhalant abuse leads can lead to many serious, intense short-term effects. A user may slur their speech or have coordination problems. They may have trouble with forming words, or seem generally disoriented and confused. The user may be dizzy, lightheaded, or may feel sick to their stomach.

There is no such thing as safe inhalant use. Every time a person uses inhalants, they are causing brain damage and are in danger of hearing loss, painful nerve damage, and cardiac arrest. The effects of inhalant abuse are usually felt within seconds. The high only lasts a few minutes, during which the user experiences intoxication. They may become dizzy and lose their balance or feel ill.

Symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, loss of control, hallucinations, and impaired judgment may occur. Highly concentrated amounts of some inhalants can lead to “sudden sniffing death” – a condition where heart failure and death can occur within minutes of inhaling the chemicals.

Some inhalant users will paint their nails with correction fluid or have clothes that smell of paint, nail polish remover, and other chemicals. Some will dip the edge of their shirt in the fluid and sniff it. Butane lighters and fluid in the hands of a non-smoker can also be a sign of inhalant abuse. They will smell of chemicals and may not even be aware of it.

What Are the Long-Term Effects and Dangers of Inhalant Use?

Long-term inhalant abusers risk causing serious, permanent to their bodies, including brain damage, liver and kidney dysfunction or shut down, memory loss, and seizures. Vision and hearing damage are not uncommon among inhalant users.

Long-term inhalant users tend to suffer from muscle weakness and a lack of coordination. They will lose weight. They may have difficulty concentrating and show signs of depression. Many people who use inhalants end up with irreversible liver or kidney damage. Research shows that chronic exposure to chemicals can lead to widespread and long-lasting damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system with damage similar to neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Dependency/Addiction

Users can become psychologically and physiologically dependent on inhalants. Users who are addicted may be heavily preoccupied and dependent on their favorite product or brand to get high, and are even unwilling to substitute another product. A chronic inhalant abuser will develop a tolerance to their inhalant of choice, requiring greater doses of the to get high. They may steal their favorite inhalant from the store or stockpile chemicals. Their relationships, schoolwork, and quality of life will begin to suffer.

Many inhalant users who try to stop using have difficulty due to withdrawal effects. Many inhalant users have reported intense cravings.

Withdrawal symptoms to inhalants have been known to include:

  • Hand tremors
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscular cramps

An individual detoxing from inhalants may require medical supervision to minimize the discomfort of withdrawals.

Getting Help for an Inhalant Problem

Many people have successfully stopped using inhalants with the help of a therapeutic program or residential treatment environment. Treatment for inhalant abuse depends upon many factors, including the age and gender of the patient, what other substances they abuse, and the length and severity of the patient’s drug problems.

You can reclaim your life and be free from inhalant abuse. There is always a better way. Take the first step by giving us a 100% confidential call to learn more about your recovery options. Contact us today by calling the number above.