What Are Inhalants?
Most inhalants are ordinary products you could pick up at a hardware store or supermarket. These include paint thinner, propane, gasoline, whipped cream cans, and bottles of glue. All of these products have strong chemical fumes that can be inhaled for the purpose of experiencing a strong feeling of euphoria.
Because they are so readily available, they are also easy to abuse. Inhalant abuse is especially common among teens and young adults. They likely already have these substances in their homes and want to know what it would be like to inhale the fumes.
Inhalant Addiction and Abuse
An inhalant use disorder is a problem that is specific to those who get addicted to inhalants. A substance use disorder is more general and can refer to anyone who has consistent problems with addiction and substance abuse. Inhalant use disorders are rare, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from them.
Those with this condition may have a particularly hard time responding to treatment for inhalants.
Signs of Addiction to Inhalants
Common signs of addiction include sweating, runny nose, watery eyes, clammy skin, nausea, and dizziness. Some may experience depression, anxiety, delusions, abdominal pain, seizures, and vomiting.
Effects of Inhalant Abuse
Many people who use inhalants might not suspect that anything is wrong with their use. Inhalants cause euphoria and feelings of giddiness. This can make a person more likely to keep using these substances. However, few realize that inhalants will eventually start causing grave health consequences.
Inhalants can cause brain damage, cognitive decline, and mental illness. They also damage the lungs and heart.
Dangers of Long-Term Inhalant Use
Using inhalants for many months or years can cause neurotoxic damage, followed by the development of neurological syndromes. These syndromes can make it difficult for a person to move, talk, hear, and see. This brain damage could also lead to cognitive impairments, and it may even cause certain neurological conditions like dementia.
Side Effects of Inhalants
Inhalants are not currently classified under the Controlled Substances Act. Most of them have no human use, though some, such as nitrous oxide, may be used as a light sedative in the dental industry. Common side effects include a brief feeling of euphoria and happiness, followed by fatigue, nausea, pain, and difficulty breathing.
The general use of illicit drugs, including inhalants, seems to be particularly high among teenagers, since 15% of all high school students will use these substances in their lifetimes. Common street names for inhalants include poor man’s pot, poppers, whippets, snappers, and rush.