Inhalant Addiction Facts

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 2 million Americans commonly abuse nitrates and nitrous oxides. Of that, a large percentage is young adults and teenagers. The effects of inhalants are similar to the effects of alcohol dependence and alcohols effect on the brain. Once the chemical is inhaled, an immediate euphoric feeling is produced, lasting anywhere from a brief few minutes to almost an hour. The immediate inhalant withdrawals that follow have similar “hangover” effects such as headaches and nausea. Users are also prone to inhalant addiction.

Common Forms of Inhalants

Young man struggling with inhalant addictionWhippets, poppers, huffing and dusting are just a few of the popular terms for using inhalants. The chemicals that produce this high are generally common household products.

The American Council for Drug Education (ACDE) categorizes them as follows:

Organic Solvents: A liquid compound that evaporates to a gas. Paint thinners, spray paint, butane, and gasoline are just some of the easily obtainable and highly dangerous chemicals abused.

Nitrates: Nitrogen is commonly used medically to treat chest pain. There are two types: amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate.

Nitrous Oxide: The chemical is used as an anesthetic medicinally, however, it can also be found in household products. Laughing gas is the common term for this chemical.

Warning Signs of Inhalant Abuse

If you are not sure if a loved one is dealing with inhalant addiction here are some signs of inhalant abuse:

  • Appearing drunk: Dizzy, disorientated, slurred speech
  • Vomiting and/or decreased appetite
  • Sweet or unidentifiable order on breath or clothes
  • Runny eyes or nose, sores around mouth
  • Evidence of products; such as paint products on face, hands, and clothes
  • Dramatic mood shift; irritability, restlessness, or anger
  • Inhalant abusers commonly behave elusively: hiding clothes, rags and garbage.

The Physical Damage

Because of the drunk-like high, the inhalant abuser can harm themselves as well as others, such as operating machinery or vehicles. Coughing, nose bleeds and hallucinations can result from inhaling chemicals. Oxygen restriction can cause asphyxia, coma or even death. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is a result of lack of oxygen and cardiac arrest.