The Dangers of Inhalant Addiction
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH on 06/27/2022
Are You Struggling with Inhalant Addiction?
Primarily, inhalants are chemicals people “huff,” or breathe in deeply on purpose. The chemicals used causes damage to a person’s nasal passageways, brain, and can be fatal. This article discusses inhalants, chemical addiction, and inhalant addiction treatment.
What Does Inhalant Addiction Look Like?
Drug addiction can begin at the most unexpected times, so knowing the signs and symptoms of a huffing addiction could help save a loved one’s life. For example, substances like paints or gases that produce highs when inhaled are common among teenagers and children.
It Can Happen to Anyone
Inhalants are prevalent among younger generations, likely because other drugs are hard to get at that age. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 793,000 people aged 12 or older consumed inhalants for the first time in the last 12 months. 68.4% of users were under the age of 18.
The drug’s widespread use among teens means that parents are the first line of defense against inhalant addiction. However, this doesn’t mean parents can always prevent their children from becoming inhalant addicts. On the contrary, it means that parents are usually the first to notice that their child is addicted to something. Then, they must make the hard choice of setting up their loved one with a trip to rehab treatment.
Common Among Middle School Students
The National Institute on Drug Abuse conducts an annual survey regarding inhalant use among minors. One such survey was done among 8th, 9th, and 12th graders and showed that the highest rates of current, past-year, and lifetime inhalants were by 8th graders. This data shows how the nature of the drug is to attract younger users who are desperate for a way to get high.
There are ways of helping those you know overcome inhalant addiction. You can start the process by calling 405-583-4309 and speaking to a professional who can help.
What is an Inhalant?
People can inhale many addictive substances. Inhalants generally refer to vapors and materials that a person breathes in. For instance, some of these substances are:
· Solvents, which are liquids that become gases at room temperature
· Aerosol sprays
· Nitrites, prescription medicines for chest pain
Examples of Inhalants
As you can see, everyday household items and legal prescriptions are the usual sources of addictions among youth. Even innocuous things such as:
· Spray paints
· Cleaning fluids
A person can get high misusing any of these products and more. Though these products are designed as tools, misusing these common household goods can get someone high. These items have psychoactive compounds that can produce a buzz when inhaled in large amounts.
What Happens When Someone Huffs an Inhalant?
Once someone uses a substance to get into a mind-altered state, there is a craving to use more and more. The prevalence of inhalant use was highest among children aged 12 to 17, with 14 being the most common. In response, parents should learn more about inhalant addiction and how to find professional addiction treatment. By doing so, relatives can help their loved ones with drug addiction and get back into a healthy lifestyle.
Users of these drugs will breathe the fumes in through their nose or mouth. Standard terms are sniffing, snorting, bagging, and huffing, but each substance used will have different terminology.
By learning more about inhalants, people can help their loved one’s steer clear of harmful products. With treatment, support, and dedication, professional rehab programs can remove inhalant addiction from someone’s life. In addition, assessment, detox, and counseling help prepare the drug user for a life of sobriety and good health.
Common Substances and Symptoms
Surprisingly, several household products can lead to developing an addiction. Particular chemicals in these products can affect the user’s brain. As a result, the high becomes addictive, with a psychological and physical dependency built up over time. In addition, adverse health risks associated with each chemical threaten the drug user’s health. Reaching out to an addiction specialist is the first step toward preventing severe damage.
Amyl and butyl nitrate have many commercial uses and are in some prescription chest pain medications. However, they can be very dangerous if misused. Other names for these substances are poppers or video head cleaners. The high associated with the drug is brief but intense. Furthermore, combining the drug with other substances like alcohol can pose significant health problems. Injury to red blood cells and skin lesions can be side effects of regular poppers usage.
Paint removers, degreasers, and paint thinners all contain Methylene chloride. However, long-term use of this substance can lead to problems with the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. Additionally, heart complications do occur as a result of addiction to methylene chloride.
Freon is a refrigerant and aerosol propellant. The common side effects of Freon are damage to the liver and respiratory systems. Thus, finding empty aerosol cans could indicate the presence of an inhalant addiction in the house.
How Can I Help My Loved One?
Firstly, if you notice an excess of empty solvent or aerosol containers in your home, consider initiating a serious conversation with your loved one about substance use disorders (SUDs). Secondly, reaching out to an addiction specialist provides education about addiction, resources, and local treatment centers.
Getting clean of these substances is vital for the health of the drug user. Don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more about possible treatment plans.
The Risks of Inhalation Dependency
Some people that live around a drug addict eventually become an enabler. Enabling is when those who know the user don’t do anything to help stop the negative behavior. On the other hand, relatives and roommates are sometimes the first to notice signs of addiction in their loved ones. Knowing these signs and acting on them, you could be helping save a life from even more harm.
The Effects of Chemical Inhalation
Effects from consuming inhalants can be wide-ranging. That said, most users experience a short high that resembles alcohol intoxication. At first, using inhalants to get high seems energetic, but then follows drowsiness and agitation. Once enough gases enter the system, nearly all inhalants lead to anesthesia and a possible loss of consciousness. Inhalant addiction is likely if you notice events or behavior similar to this.
Behaviors of Inhalant Addiction
Other general behaviors could be signs of an addiction. The dangers of abusing inhalants include:
· Belligerent attitude
· Apathy for regular activities
· Impaired judgment
· Inability to function in social or work situations
High doses of inhalants can cause confusion and delirium as well. Therefore, taking proper action is essential if you suspect inhalants to be the culprit. Learning more about the signs of addiction can be done by speaking to an addiction expert for a free consultation.
Additionally, knowing when a relative or friend develops a dependency creates an opportunity to get them into addiction treatment assistance sooner. Furthermore, the toxicity of the chemicals can harm other organs like the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys.
Although some syndromes resulting from extremely long exposure to inhalants are permanent, most people can make full recoveries. However, a complete mental and physical recovery is challenging without the support of medical attention.
Identifying the Signs of an Inhalant Addiction
The best way to prevent serious health consequences is early detection of the addiction.
After identifying the addiction, a gentle and honest conversation with the user will be an excellent first step. If there are many signs of addiction, then refrain from inflicting guilt or shaming the addict. Shaming the person may result in a defensive response to the treatment idea from that point on.
What Can Loved Ones Look Out For?
Parents, teachers, friends, and others around the user should be aware of the following symptoms of inhalant abuse:
· Chemical odors on the breath or clothing
· Paints or chemical stains on the face, hands, or clothes
· Empty spray or solvent cans lying around, as well as soaked rags or clothes
· Drunk or disheveled appearance
· Slurred speech when conversing
· Loss of appetite
· Inattentiveness, irritability, and depression
Certain flammable chemicals can also cause burn marks around the hands or face. These marks result from the substances within refrigerants, aerosols, and flammable liquids that are corrosive when in contact with human skin.
Harmful inhalants include:
Furthermore, gasoline-based and flammable inhalants link to impaired motor skills. In particular, long-term use of inhalants has neurotoxic effects on the brain. Cognition, movement, vision, and hearing can all be affected by the chronic consumption of inhalants. From mild, periodic lapses in judgment to dementia, inhalants affect how a person interacts with and perceives their environment.
There is Always Help and Hope
Suppose you know someone who has been using the inhalant for an extended period and isn’t sure where to start. In that case, a free professional consultation will help. Also, consider reaching out to an addiction specialist by calling the number at the bottom and top of this page.
Finding Resources for Inhalant Addiction Treatment
Inhalants present health risks to the user, so getting treatment early and quickly is very important. At a rehab center, the overall goal is to get the patient to a stable point where they are ready for a lifetime of sobriety.
At the same time, relapse is a natural part of maintaining sobriety, so the recovering addict needs constant support. Notably, the team will get to know the addict and their situation. As a result, doctors and rehab professionals can tailor a treatment plan to their specific circumstances with drug addiction.
Early Intervention for Inhalant Addiction
When attempting to detox off of inhalants, withdrawal syndrome can occur. As a result, mild to severe side effects could take place. Panic attacks, nervousness, sweating, insomnia, headaches, and body pain are common symptoms of inhalant withdrawal. However, medical and rehab professionals can manage these effects carefully and compassionately.
Generally speaking, the longer the chemical has been used regularly as an inhalant. Therefore, detoxing off of inhalants alone can be dangerous, but the rehab staff is well equipped to help. In addition, medical staff can provide treatment methods and medications to help drug users safely and securely quit drugs.
By calling 405-583-4309 and conversing with a rehab expert, learning about the next steps can be done. Rehab specialists can lay out different treatment options in a clear way for those that want to get their loved ones’ lives back on track.
What is the scope of inhalant use in the United States? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
Youth and Drugs: Problems, Consequences and Preventives Measures | Ibrahim U Ibrahim – Academia.edu
What are the other medical consequences of inhalant abuse? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
What are the short- and long-term effects of inhalant use? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
How can inhalant abuse be recognized? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
What Should I Expect When Going to Rehab? – Better Help Addiction Care
What You Need to Know About Enabling Addiction – Recover Today (betterhelpaddictioncare.com)
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