Often overlooked as harmful recreational drugs, inhalants are a class of products that encompasses a wide variety of household chemicals and anesthetics based on their preferred method of administration: inhalation. While they aren’t as popular as other drugs, inhalants can be just as dangerous, and they are legal, which means they are easily obtained and difficult to police. However, efforts have been made in certain areas to limit access to these common household products by minors, in order to reduce the incidence of inhalant addiction. If you recognize signs of inhalant abuse in a loved one, don’t hesitate to get help. A person who can’t quit abusing these substances needs drug rehab just as much as an alcoholic or cocaine addict does. Contact iAddiction today to find out what treatment options are available for inhalant addiction.

Addictive Properties of Inhalants

Inhalants are household and industrial products that contain volatile solvents or aerosols that, when inhaled or “huffed,” can produce short-lived, mind-altering effects similar to those caused by drinking alcohol. The effects of inhalants occur within seconds of inhalation and typically include impaired judgment or motor function, lightheadedness and slurred speech. The signs of inhalant addiction are often hard to hide from regular abusers. They may smell of solvents, have paint on their faces, or leave behind empty compressed air cans or nitrous oxide canisters. Some behavioral signs of inhalant abuse to watch out for may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of self-control
  • Euphoria
  • Disorientation
  • Excitability
  • Limited reflexes
  • Visual disturbances
  • Lack of coordination
  • Violent behavior
  • Muscle weakness

What is an Addiction to Inhalants?

Inhalant abuse constitutes the misuse of household solvents, like cleaning products or gasoline, or anesthetics, like nitrous oxide or chloroform, whose volatile vapors or pressurized gases are concentrated and breathed in via the nose or mouth for the purpose of achieving a “high.” Because intoxication from inhalants typically only lasts a few minutes, some users prolong the high by inhaling repeatedly, and may even heat the substance before inhaling it to intensify its effects. Some commonly abused inhalants include:

  • Spray paint
  • Gasoline
  • Paint thinner
  • Lighter fluid
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Airplane glue
  • Air conditioning coolant
  • Whipped cream canisters
  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Chloroform
  • Computer duster spray
  • Cleaning fluids

Inhalant Abuse Statistics

With other more sinister drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to worry about, you don’t often hear about the risks of inhalant addiction, but that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there. In 2011, there were more than 10,000 visits to the emergency room for inhalant abuse, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that “nearly 21.7 million Americans aged 12 and older have used inhalants at least once in their lives.” Inhalants are most commonly abused by teens with limited access to other types of drugs. Unfortunately, most teens abusing inhalants have no idea the physical harm these chemicals can cause. Inhalants act as a nervous system depressant, and even sporadic or single episodes of inhalant abuse can have devastating health consequences, while regular inhalant abuse can cause serious damage to vital organs, including the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. High doses or deep breathing of these solvents can even disrupt heart rhythms and reduce oxygen levels enough to cause cardiac arrest or suffocation.

Getting Help for Inhalant Addiction

In the grand scheme of things, inhalant addiction is a relatively rare form of substance abuse, but it’s one that requires treatment all the same. With professional help, inhalant abusers can overcome their addiction and learn the tools and skills necessary to live a life free from dangerous inhalants. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to inhalants, it’s time to get professional help. Contact iAddiction today to find a treatment facility that offers specialized programs for inhalant addiction.