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The Addictive Properties of Inhalants

What Are Inhalants

According to, inhalants are “volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect.” People use inhalants by “huffing” them through the mouth or the nose. These flammable substances may include:

  • Spray paint
  • Glue
  • Lighter fluid
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Markers
  • Cleaning products
  • Nail polish/nail polish remover
  • Gasoline
  • Gas from whipped cream cans
  • Butane
  • Paint thinners
  • Computer duster spray
  • Chloroform

People may not consider inhalants to be a drug because their original intent is not for people to get high, such as markers, but people may recreationally use them for that purpose. They are the most popular among children and teens.

 What Inhalants Do

Inhalants act as a central nervous system depressant, so many physical and mental effects occur within the body due to the slowing of the brain activity. These effects can be similar to that of alcohol’s, but they do not last very long. Here are some common short-term effects that individuals will experience when using inhalants:

  • Excitement
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowed breathing
  • Decreased self-control

Inhalants can cause psychological and physiological problems over time, such as brain damage, liver and kidney damage, and muscle spasms. Their mind-altering effects stem from the dangerous chemicals found within each inhalant.

How Are Inhalants Addictive

Even though inhalers aren’t considered to be the most popular drug, they can become very addictive. According to an article, “Repeated use of inhalants can lead to addiction, a form of substance use disorder (SUD). A SUD develops when continued use of the drug causes issues, such as health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home.”

Since the withdrawal symptoms can become so severe, many people trying to quit inhalants may go back to the drug in order to not feel the debilitating symptoms. Some of these withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Increased temperature

SUDs can be mild or reach more severe peaks. Also, over time you may develop a tolerance to inhalants, meaning you will need to take in larger amounts to achieve the same effect. This is dangerous because the more of the drug you consume, the more likely you are to overdose.

The Warning Signs of Inhalant Addiction

Since the initial effects of inhalants do not last long, you must really be on the lookout for the signs of symptoms of inhalant addiction. Some of the most common signs of inhalant addiction include:

  • Red eyes
  • Bad breath
  • Looking and acting drunk
  • Sores around the mouth area
  • Runny nose
  • Unusual eating patterns
  • Anxiety

Inhalant abuse is especially common among teenagers, and it is easy to hide since the effects do not last long. Watch out for these symptoms over time to catch the addiction.

What Should You Do If You Develop an Inhalant Addiction

  • Speak with someone you trust. Make sure that you talk to a close family member or friend about your addiction so that they can help lead you in the right direction.
  • Get professional medical help. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment option for addiction to inhalants. Addiction is not something you can handle on your own.
  • Look for different treatment options. Make sure that your treatment’s main goal is to make your mind, body, and spirit overall healthier.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, don’t wait any longer to get help. For more information on addiction treatment and prevention, call Safe Prevention at 1-877-503-2608.

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