On November 13, 2023
Most inhalants have no medical use, and they are not only illegal but also very dangerous. They are known for permanently damaging the brain and other organs. Some will cause a slow cognitive decline, while others might cause a person to die on the spot.
Some inhalants can be useful, such as nitrous oxide, as a mild sedative in a dentist’s office. Nitrites can also be inhaled to help with blood flow. However, most other inhalants are mundane objects that most people wouldn’t think of using. Common examples include paint thinner, the gas in a whipped cream can, and gasoline.Inhaling these fumes allows a person to experience an intense sense of euphoria. This euphoria is very addictive and can spur a person to keep inhaling these substances for months or years. Few people realize that this chronic inhalation of harsh substances can lead to serious consequences.
Around 2.2 million people in the United States used inhalants in 2021. This kind of substance abuse is most common among young people. This is because they may think it’s fun to try something risky like inhaling fumes that they’re not supposed to. They may also have friends who dare them to do so.Inhalants are not categorized under the Controlled Substances Act. They can cause serious side effects, such as dizziness, lung damage, fatigue, slurred speech, and fainting. Some may experience permanent brain damage and organ failure. Inhalants go by many names, including moon gas, hippy crack, and rush.
Inhalants are always breathed into the lungs. It is impossible to take them any other way since they consist of fumes. Most people who use inhalants get their noses as close to the fumes as possible before inhaling deeply. This brings the fumes into the lungs, where they will then diffuse into the blood.As soon as the fumes reach the brain, they will start producing certain effects. Euphoria will be the first result, followed by a very sick feeling.Whipped cream cans, glue bottles, and paint thinner are some of the most common inhalants. All of them can cause euphoria as well as serious health problems. They are also very easy to access due to them being sold in many different stores.
15% of high school students use drugs such as hallucinogens, stimulants, and inhalants. Inhalants are often high on the list because they are easy for young people to obtain. Once an inhalant addiction takes hold, it is very difficult for a young person to know how to deal with it. Most will give into the cravings and keep using inhalants until they get gravely sick.
When a person first takes an inhalant, they will experience strong feelings of pleasure. They may feel very happy and excited. However, these feelings are often paired with confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, and problems with motor coordination. As a person continues to use inhalants, they may notice effects such as stomach pain, difficulty breathing, and lung or nasal infections.
The effects of inhalant abuse will get increasingly worse the longer the addiction continues. Once a person starts using them every day, they could end up in a coma, sustain permanent brain damage, or even die.
It is possible to overdose on inhalants when a person takes too much or takes them over a long period of time. Every time someone uses an inhalant drug, they will cause damage to their system. This damage will eventually become so severe that it will be difficult or impossible for them to function. An overdose is also more likely when inhalants are mixed with alcohol or other drugs.
A person who has overdosed on inhalants may be unresponsive. They may have seizures, or their heart may stop beating. They may be clammy to the touch and very pale.Since an overdose is a medical emergency, you need to act fast and call 911. Once the paramedics arrive, they can administer medicine to try and reverse the effects of the overdose. They can also provide other treatments to keep the person alive.
Between 100 and 200 people die from inhalants every year. Inhalants cause death through asphyxiation, seizures, coma, and accidents. After several months or years of using inhalants, brain damage will result, along with damage to some of the internal organs.This damage is often irreversible and may be fatal. Brain damage can cause difficulty thinking, memory problems, difficulty speaking, and poor motor coordination.
Some might think it’s fun to mix inhalants with alcohol. Few realize that doing this could cause fainting, coma, seizures, respiratory suppression, and death. It is also possible for a person’s heart to slow down so much that it stops.
Some might use inhalants occasionally at parties and never touch the stuff again. Others might become dependent on it and use it every day. Once inhalants become a habit and you feel that you can’t function without them, an addiction has formed.
If you develop withdrawal symptoms when you stop using inhalants, this is a clear sign that you have an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramps, pain, confusion, and anxiety. You may also feel strong cravings for the substance.
Inhalants affect the brain in several negative ways. Besides damaging the brain’s structure, they can also affect a person’s mental health. This may lead to delusions, paranoia, mood changes, depression, and anxiety. Some may experience psychotic behavior, while others may have suicidal thoughts.
It is not usually possible to cut inhalants with anything since they are aerosolized. However, they are often taken with alcohol and other substances.
If you’re considering treatment for inhalants, there are many options to choose from. Detox is very important for getting the drug out of your system. Residential or intensive outpatient treatment plans are ideal for those who feel they need some extra support. There are also extended care options for those who need more time to recover.Most people will recover within a year.
Family and group therapies are both very productive in helping people overcome their addictions. CBT, individual therapy, and spiritual therapy can also help you understand your addiction in different ways. This may give you the mental resources you need to make a full recovery.
Those who have substance use disorders may be more likely to misuse inhalants. This condition also makes them more likely to become addicted. Some who use inhalants may also have depression, anxiety, or panic disorders. Both the addiction and underlying issues that may have contributed to the addiction must be addressed.
Many people who use inhalants are teenagers and young adults who think it would be fun. Inhalant products are readily available and easy to use. Some may also use inhalants if they have substance use disorders and want to experiment with a new drug.
Most inhalants don’t have any medical uses. Most of them are simple products such as paint thinner, glue, whipped cream cans, gasoline, and so on. However, there are a few exceptions, such as nitrous oxide and nitrites.
Many people die from inhalants every year. There is such a thing as sudden sniffing death. This is when a person drops dead after inhaling a certain substance, such as propane or butane. For others, death may take longer. Chronic inhalant use can lead to organ damage and failure. Inhalant use can also lead to car accidents and other fatal mistakes.
Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.
 NIDA. (2023, January 23). What is the scope of inhalant use in the United States?. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/inhalants/what-scope-inhalant-abuse on May 25, 2023.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022e, September 29). High risk substance use in youth. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/substance-use/index.htm on May 25, 2023.
 NIDA. 2020, May 20. What are the other medical consequences of inhalant abuse?. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/inhalants/what-are-other-medical-consequences-inhalant-abuse on May 25, 2023.