For the inhalant addict, his drug of choice may be as nearby as the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink.
Many products readily found in the home or workplace—such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids—contain volatile substances that have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties when inhaled. Inhalant usage is particularly prevalent amongst young children and adolescents. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information “More than 22 million Americans age 12 and older have used inhalants, and every year more than 750,000 use inhalants for the first time. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “even children as young as 5 or 6 years may try inhalants.”
Because these items are so common and easily available, many young people mistakenly assume that inhaling them does not constitute substance abuse. But that is a misunderstanding that can have serious and even fatal consequences. Thankfully those who are participating in inhalant abuse are not alone and can find treatment for inhalant abuse at a rehab center.
Common names for inhalant use are huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging. Inhalant users may sniff or snort fumes directly from a container or dispenser. Or some sort of cloth is soaked with the inhalant, and the substance is then placed close to the face and inhaled. Users may also sniff or inhale substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag.
Inhalants work by slowing down brain activity creating a feeling of intoxication similar to that produced by alcohol. Users may get a feeling of euphoria accompanied by slurred speech, a loss of coordination, and dizziness. Although the high produced by inhalants usually lasts just a few minutes, abusers often try to prolong it by continuing to inhale repeatedly over several hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This can have extremely harmful, even fatal consequences including cardiac arrest and asphyxiation. According to the DEA “sudden sniffing death” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person.
Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse
- Impaired judgment
- Slurred speech
- Muscle weakness
- Flushness of skin
- Symptoms resulting in death
Inhalant usage can lead to the abuse of other drugs. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms so that addicts can get the necessary inhalant treatment to prevent a spiral into ever increasing levels of addiction. The DEA suggests that parents should look for the following warning signs:
- Paint or stains on body or clothing
- Spots or sores around the mouth
- Red or runny eyes or nose
- Chemical breath odor drunk
- Loss of appetite