Inhalants | Get the Facts | Ambrosia Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
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The term “inhalant” covers a broad range of substances — including solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites — that have psychoactive properties when inhaled. Many people do not typically think these products as drugs because they were never intended for that purpose. These household items are rising in abuse popularity because they are inexpensive, easy to hide, and the easiest way to get high.

Poppers, Snappers, Whippets & Laughing Gas
Paint Thinners, Degreasers, Dry-Cleaning Fluids, Lighter Fluids, Permanent Markers, Electronics Cleaner, Spray Paint, Whipped Cream Aerosol Containers, Chloroform & Nitrous Oxide
Inhaled Through the Nose or Mouth

Effects of Inhalants

Short-Term Effects

Inhalants cut off oxygen flow to the brain and depress the central nervous system. The effect of inhalants are similar to alcohol, including:

  • slurred speech
  • lack of coordination
  • euphoria
  • dizziness & light-headedness
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • not in control
  • drowsiness
  • lingering headache

Long-Term Effects

Inhalants can be lethal. Sniffing or huffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals can directly cause instant heart failure. Sudden Sniffing Death syndrome can result from a single session of inhalant use. High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation, especially when inhaled from paper or plastic bag or in a closed area.

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Loss of coordination
  • Limb spasms
  • Brain damage

How Are Inhalants Abused?

Often inhalant abusers find the household items already available in their homes. They breathe the chemicals in through the nose or mouth, commonly called “huffing.”

Abusers may also soak a rag in chemicals to inhale through their mouth, or they may use a balloon or plastic bag to inhale orally.

Although the high produced by inhalants usually last just a few minutes, abusers try to prolong it by continuing to inhale repeatedly over several hours.

When does Abuse Start?

Huffing is prevalent among teens and young adults, with an average starting age of 19.

Period Lifetime (%) Past Year (%) Past Month (%)
Ages 12 or Older 8.0% 0.6% 0.2%
Ages 12 to 17 5.3% 2.1% 0.6%
Ages 18 to 25 7.0% 1.1% 0.2%
Ages 26 or Older 8.5% 0.4% 0.2%

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I educate my child about inhalants?

It is never too early to educate your children about the dangers of drugs. Inhalant use can start as early as elementary school since the items are often in the homes. Inhalants are poisons and toxins. They can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs, even more so fatal.

What can I do if someone I know is abusing inhalants?

If someone you know if huffing, the best thing to do is remain calm and seek professional help. If their use is suspected, try not to accuse but rather ask and have an open conversation. If they are willing to seek help, professional mental and health services should be contacted.

What are some types of inhalants?

Types of inhalant abuse, huffing, or snorting includes:

  • Correction fluid
  • Dust-Off
  • Diethyl Chloride
  • Dry Erase Markers/Sharpies
  • Paint Thinner
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Freon
  • Redi Whip

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