Inhalant Addiction

Inhalant Addiction

Addiction is a quickly growing epidemic in the United States. Each year, thousands die due to overdose and drug-related health problems. Addiction transcends demographics, tax brackets, and age groups, as it can and does affect everyone. And, unfortunately, children aren’t exempt from this fact. Teens, middle schoolers, and even elementary-aged kids are susceptible to drug use and abuse.

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Through a variety of factors like stress at home, peer pressure, mental health issues, and other contributors, some children seek out and use drugs. Though many of the dangerous illicit and prescription drugs of abuse are out of the reach of children, there is one class of drugs you may have in your home right now.

Inhalants are a class of drugs that are commonly used by children and they are often a person’s first foray into drug abuse. They are often found in common household products like cleaning agents, gasoline, and other chemical substances. Because they can be found in almost any home, they are extremely accessible to children and teens. Unfortunately, their ubiquity doesn’t necessarily mean that they are less harmful than other drugs. In fact, some inhalants can be deadly. Parents and guardians need to be vigilant in keeping dangerous chemicals out of the hands of kids and teens and older inhalant users should be aware of the risks associated with many of these forms of recreational drugs.

Learn about some of the most common inhalants, their effects on the human body, how to spot inhalant addiction, and how addiction can be treated.


  • What Are Inhalants?

    Inhalants are a class of drug that can be inhaled without the use of heat or flame. For instance, gasoline can be considered an inhalant because fumes are naturally produced while, even though marijuana is inhaled, it requires a fire and smoke to produce the desired effects. There are two main categories of inhalant: aerosol sprays and volatile chemicals.

    Aerosol sprays are common among household cleaning products and some can be inhaled for euphoric effects. However, the immediate effects are typically unpleasant and can include a foul taste and severe headaches. Volatile chemicals are substances that give of fumes are room temperature like gasoline, solvents, and nail polish remover. These chemicals often need no other drug paraphernalia to use but they too can cause extreme headaches and other immediate symptoms.

    Some inhalants aren’t found in household supplies but, rather, are sold over-the-counter as recreational drugs. Products like amyl nitrites are sold as part drugs and can be marketed as seemingly harmless products like “room odorizer.”

    Some commonly abused inhalants include:

    Volatile chemicals that produce gas at room temperature. Solvents can include paint thinners, lighter fluid, gasoline, felt-tip markers, and glue.

    Sprays are very common and can include spray deodorant, paint, air freshener, cleaning products, and cooking sprays.

    These can be found in both household and commercial products like propane tanks, butane lighters, and whipped cream aerosol cans. Less common anesthetics also fit into this category and can include ether, chloroform, and nitrous oxide

    These are the only commonly used inhalants that are sold as recreational drugs, though they are often disguised as other products. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), they can appear on store shelves as video head cleaner, room odorizer, leather cleaner, and liquid aroma.

    What Are the Signs of Inhalant Addiction?

    Inhalant use has a number of telltale signs, and since it’s most common in younger users, it’s important for parents and guardians to be aware of the earmarks of inhalant abuse. If you are worried that a loved one is using inhalants, look out for the following signs and symptoms:

    • Inhalant products out of place or in strange places
    • Drug paraphernalia like rags and plastic or paper bags
    • The person exhibits slurred speech or disorientation
    • Frequent nausea or loss of appetite
    • Withdrawing from normal activities or isolationism
    • Exhaustion
    • Loss of focus
    • Sudden mood swings
    • Trouble breathing
    • Glue, paint, or other products around the face and mouth.
    • Recklessness
    • Damage or disease of the blood, kidneys, liver, heart or marrow

    Learning more about inhalants, addiction, and treatment may help you find a solution. If you or a loved one can’t stop using inhalants even despite negative consequences, you may be addicted to inhalants. Addiction treatment will be necessary to get out from under the oppression of addiction.

    What Is Involved in Inhalant Addiction Treatment?

    Inhalants can often lead to a form of substance use disorder, which is a clinical term that describes substance abuse, dependence, and addiction. Inhalants addiction is rare and use of the drugs rarely lead to the long-term disease of the brain’s reward center that’s consistent with addiction. However, dependence can occur and symptoms of withdrawal have been reported by people trying to quit inhalant use. Addiction is a possibility and it’s marked by the continued use of the drug despite consequences to health, home life, or other forms of personal well-being.

    Inhalant addiction or inhalant use disorders are difficult to overcome without outside help. There are a variety of issues that contribute to addiction including co-occurring mental health issues like genetic predispositions, stress, and other problems. However, addiction treatment can help you get to the root of your substance use issue and begin the road to lifelong recovery. There are a variety of addiction treatment options and, with an addiction epidemic in the U.S., researchers are constantly working on new ways to combat the disease. There is some debate over which is the best approach to treatment.

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    However, NIDA has come up with alist of 13 principles that quality and result-driven addiction treatment services should have. These principles are based on scientific studies about the effectiveness of different factors in treatment. Many of the principles have become cornerstones in the modern addiction treatment model. If you are looking for effective inhalants addiction treatment, you should be aware of these particular elements of addiction treatment and therapy:

    There is no one definitive treatment that works for every person.

    Drug addiction is a very complex disease, which is often caused by a tangled web of underlying factors. A treatment option that helps a person with major depressive disorder may not be as effective for a person with a history of trauma. Effective, results-driven treatment options need to be personalized to each individual seeking treatment. When you enter a treatment program, clinicians and your therapist should sit down with you and explore your needs and concerns to build a treatment plan that is unique to you. An ineffective treatment would be to try to fit you into a standardized treatment plan.

    While treatment is personalized, behavioral therapies are recommended.

    Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy can answer a number of needs that are often seen in or alongside substance use disorder. They are also evidence-based, which means their effectiveness is supported by science and these therapies can be reproduced in a variety of treatment settings.

    Addiction is a complex and chronic disease.

    It’s important to approach addiction treatment with a proper understanding of what the disease really is. Addiction should be treated as a complex disease that is chronic and difficult to overcome without help. As a disease, there is a threat of relapse that is similar to that of other diseases like asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. In fact, addiction relapse can be as high as 60 percent. To combat this, you will need to learn long-lasting relapse prevention strategies and continue to pursue treatment goals after formal treatment is over. Addiction therapy options with an understanding of addiction as a disease will be better suited to guide you to life-long recovery.

    Treatment should address multiple needs.

    It’s not enough for a program to just address substance use disorders alone. Addiction can impact various aspects of a person’s life, including their finances, social life, career, health, mental health, and more. Treatment should be comprehensive, addressing multiple needs simultaneously. If the underlying issues that are feeding the addiction aren’t addressed, then it is more likely that you will eventually relapse.

    Treatment needs to last long enough.

    Treatment isn’t over when the substance has been removed from your system in detox. Again, addiction is a chronic disease and it can cause cravings and triggers for years after your last hit. Rewriting the way you process triggers, cravings, and stress will take time. Studies show that aminimum of three months (90 days) is the most effective duration. Like other aspects of treatment, your treatment duration should be based on your needs; however, 90 days is generally the most effective option.

    Levels of Care

    If you are seeking treatment for inhalant addiction the level of care you are placed into is determined by your initial intake. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has a set ofsix criteria that help clinicians determine the right treatment options for each individual. The first three criteria are used to determine a person’s immediate needs and typically describe the deciding factors in a client’s initial placement. The latter three help clinicians gain further insight into the interventions and therapies that can help you. The six criteria are as follows:

    Are you currently intoxicated or have you recently quit using? This could mean dangerous withdrawal symptoms and requires medical detox.

    Medical needs may require a higher level of care.

    If psychological needs aren’t met, they can lead to complications in treatment or ineffective treatment.

    Not all clients come to treatment realizing they need to make a change. Certain interventions are designed around increasing your motivation to pursue treatment goals and make a positive change.

    If you have relapsed several times or failed to achieve sobriety after several attempts, a treatment plan will be built with this in mind. (i.e., relapse prevention strategies).

    Do you live in a place that helps or hurts your recovery efforts?

    Based on these criteria, your intake assessment, and your meeting with a therapist, you will be placed in a level of care to begin your journey through addiction treatment. There are four basic levels of care and they are as follows:

    • Outpatient treatment
    • Intensive outpatient treatment
    • Medically monitored inpatient services
    • Medically managed services

    Completing formal treatment doesn’t mark the end of your recovery. Many facilities offer aftercare programs to connect you to additional services to help you continue to pursue goals in your recovery and in your life as a whole.





    How Dangerous are Inhalants?

    Unlike other recreational drugs, inhalants can be inherently deadly. When a person uses inhalants, they fill their lungs with gases and harmful chemicals that can damage their bodies. This commonly leads to hypoxia, a medical condition that comes from lack of oxygen. It is especially dangerous to inhale fumes from a plastic bag or other tools that block the normal flow of oxygen. In those cases, your body has to contend with a lack of oxygen that is being replaced by harmful chemicals.

    Inhalants that involve high-pressure canisters like computer and keyboard cleaners or nitrous oxide, escaping air comes out extremely cold.

    Under normal circumstances, the escaping air rapidly conforms to normal room temperatures. However, when it’s sprayed directly into the mouth or up the nose, you are introducing freezing air to your sensitive throat, which can cause frostbite. Certain chemicals, especially solvents, can cause lung infections like pneumonia, cardiac arrest, and aspiration of vomit. Chemicals like butane can cause asphyxiation and heart arrhythmias.

    Inhalants addiction is associated with a phenomenon called sudden sniffing death syndrome. This occurs when an inhalant causes a sudden cardiac arrest in the user. In some cases, inhalants with anesthetic effects can decrease your tolerance to adrenaline. If you are startled in this state, the surge ofadrenaline can cause a heart attack.

    Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

    Despite their wide availability and common use, inhalant use disorders should be taken seriously. The use of certain chemicals can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. If you or someone you know has been abusing chemicals or if you believe that you may have a substance use disorder, addiction treatment is available to you. 

    Addiction is a chronic disease that is difficult to overcome on your own but help may just be a call away.

    Call the addiction specialists at the Palm Beach Institute at (855) 960-5456 today to learn more about inhalant addiction treatment options.