Inhalant abuse and addiction are on the rise in the United States, particularly among young people. These substances are not what most people think of as drugs at all. But it is possible to misuse them for the purpose of getting high.
Addiction treatment may be necessary in order to help a person get off inhalants if they have gotten addicted to them. Many of these drugs can have a profound effect on the mind and body, and intervention may be necessary to ensure that more damage does not occur. People need to know how serious this addiction is and that help is available to them.
Inhalants often appear to be safe because many of them are found around the home. But there are risks involved with abusing them and using them for unintended purposes. We want to inform people of the dangers of inhalants and let them know that going to rehab can help them stop using them.
What are Inhalants?
Many of the drugs that people use are inhaled, but the word inhalants refers to a group of substances that people use only by inhaling them. These are products that are typically found all around the home.
Many of these products have ingredients that are dangerous when they are inhaled, and they are not for human consumption. When they are abused, they create psychoactive effects in the brain. The euphoria that results can be highly addictive.
These drugs are most often abused by young people, as we mentioned earlier. Teens and older children can easily find them at home and abuse them in secret. Parents may not know this is even happening until they learn later that their child has gotten addicted to these substances.
Inhalants are abused by breathing in the fumes of a substance through the nose or mouth. This can be done in a few different ways, such as:
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, close to 21.7 million people in the United States aged 12 and older have used inhalants at least once. Also, 13.1% of eighth-graders have reported using inhalants at least once.
Abusing these drugs even once can have serious consequences, and even result in death in some cases. The high inhalants produce is typically short-lived, which causes people to continue to inhale repeatedly to keep the euphoria going.
There are several products that can be inhaled for the purpose of getting high. Many of them are probably in most people’s homes, garages or workplaces. They include:
- Paint thinner or remover
- Dry cleaning fluid
- Lighter fluid
- Correction fluids or white out
- Felt-tip marker fluid
- Electronic contact cleaners
- Butane lighters
- Propane tanks
- Whipped cream aerosols or dispensers
- Hair spray
- Deodorant spray
- Spray paint
- Aerosol computer cleaning products
- Vegetable oil sprays
- Nitrous oxide
- Room deodorizer spray
- Leather cleaning fluid
The Effects of Inhalants
People who abuse inhalants typically do not consider the long-term or even the short-term effects of their drug use. These substances work by affecting the central nervous system in the body. They slow down activity in the brain and act as depressants.
Most people who abuse these drugs do so for the euphoric high they offer. But what they do not realize is that they could be doing lasting damage to their minds and bodies.
The short-term effects of inhalants are very similar to what people experience when they drink too much alcohol. They can include:
- Having trouble with coordination and body movements.
- A sensation of euphoria or feeling high.
- Feelings of dizziness or vertigo.
- Slurred or distorted speech.
- Feelings of lightheadedness
- Hallucinations that appear very real.
- Delusions or false beliefs about reality.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Painful, lasting headaches.
- Loss of self-control.
- Excessive drowsiness.
As with most drugs, the longer a person abuses inhalants, the more serious the effects can become. A person who has been using these drugs for a long period of time puts themselves at risk for experiencing any of the following long-term effects:
- Damage to their bone marrow.
- Kidney damage.
- Liver damage.
- Hearing loss.
- Nerve damage, which can result in limb spasms and loss of coordination.
- Delayed behavioral development.
- Significant brain damage.
- Unsafe sexual practices, which can increase the risk of getting or spreading diseases like hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.
Some of these effects may be reversed if the person stops using inhalants in time. But sometimes they are permanent.
Is it Possible to Overdose on Inhalants?
There have been many people who have overdosed on inhalants. This usually happens because of the short-lived high these drugs produce. People will continue to use them, not realizing how much they have actually used. The result can be a potentially deadly overdose.
Inhalants are known to cause people to experience seizures or even fall into a coma. A lot of the products people inhale are highly concentrated with many active ingredients and chemicals. Sniffing them can cause a person’s heart to stop, even if they have never used these drugs before. This is called Sudden Sniffing Death. Using any of these products with a paper or plastic bag can also lead to death by suffocation because the person is not able to breathe.
How do People Get Addicted to Inhalant Drugs?
It is not common for people to get addicted to inhalant drugs. But there are those who develop a substance abuse disorder as a result of continued use of these products. A person is said to have a substance abuse disorder when their drug use:
- Is causing them physical or mental health problems.
- Is interfering with their ability to meet their responsibilities at work, home or school.
- Has taken over every aspect of their lives.
- Has led to obsessive behaviors.
- Continues even when they want to stop using.
There are also additional signs and symptoms of addiction that people can look for. Parents should especially watch for the following in their children because they are at a high risk for inhalant abuse:
- Using a drug as a way to deal with one’s problems.
- Taking serious risks in an attempt to obtain inhalants and use them.
- Taking an initial large dose of the drug to get high quickly.
- Becoming disheveled and no longer caring about one’s physical appearance.
- Setting aside favorite hobbies and activities in favor of using inhalants.
- Only using in secret.
- Becoming isolated from one’s family and friends.
- Changes in one’s appetite.
- Sleep problems, such as insomnia and nightmares.
- Needing to use more of the drug in order to get the same effects.
Getting Treatment for Inhalant Addiction
People who are addicted to inhalants should strongly consider getting treatment to help them stop taking them. It may seem strange to consider going to drug rehab for abusing a substance that is otherwise known to be relatively safe. But people often underestimate how dangerous inhalant drugs can be.
Those who have formed an addiction to inhalants are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them. This can even happen after continued use for several days, so it may not take long to get addicted.
Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms that people may experience include:
- Muscle cramps
- Anger and agitation
- Cravings for inhalant drugs
- Excessive sweating
Most of the time, it is not necessary for people to go through the detoxification process for inhalant abuse or addiction. But for those who experience severe withdrawal symptoms, detoxing may be needed for a short period of time.
Medical drug detox can be very helpful for those who are having severe withdrawal from inhalants. They will be medically monitored for any dangerous or life-threatening symptoms. They can also take medications to help with various symptoms or to prevent them. Holistic treatments may also be incorporated as well.
Going to drug rehab offers people the chance to identify and get treatment for the underlying cause of their addictions. Many young people will use inhalant drugs as a way of escaping their current reality. They enjoy how the substances make them feel when compared to how they feel when they are not high.
A lot of young people who abuse inhalants will end up doing so because they are self-medicating some other uncomfortable symptoms away. These individuals may be struggling because of a mental health issue that has not been properly treated. This is called having a co-occurring disorder.
Co-occurring disorders are very common among people with drug addictions. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that as many as half of everyone who goes to rehab will have a co-occurring disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment can provide treatment for both the addiction and the substance abuse problem at the same time.
SpringBoard Recovery: Offering Drug Rehab for Inhalant Addiction
At SpringBoard Recovery, we have worked with many people who were battling inhalant addiction. Many of them thought that these drugs were benign and it was something they were just doing for fun. They did not know about the serious consequences that could result.
When a client comes to us for treatment, we always assess them individually. Personalized treatment is something we pride ourselves on, and people need to know that they will be viewed as having their own needs for recovery.
Some of our clients may be in need of drug detox services. If that is the case, we will offer them a referral for a program that we trust. Once they have gone through that process, they will be ready to begin rehab and receive therapy.
At SpringBoard Recovery, we offer outpatient treatment for our clients. Our main focus is on our intensive outpatient program, or IOP, which is where many people begin. IOPs are very flexible, and clients will attend treatment 3-5 times per week during the evening hours. This leaves the daytime free for school, work, family and other responsibilities.
Many of our clients find that continuing to live at home is not conducive for recovery. They may reside with people who also use drugs, or they may have dangerous living situations in which they are being abused in some way. In cases like these, we recommend our sober living home. In fact, we work with people from all over the United States who decide to travel to Arizona to get the rehab services they need. These individuals also have access to our sober living services.
Inhalant addiction is not something that can be successfully and fully addressed during a 12-week IOP. In many cases, it takes time to form an addiction to these drugs, which means that it can take even longer to break that addiction.
Aftercare is the most critical component of addiction recovery for those who want to avoid relapsing. People must continue to get treatment and support for quite some time once they finish rehab. This may be in the form of a more traditional outpatient counseling environment, in the form of Narcotics Anonymous meetings or both.
Learn More About Inhalant Addiction, Abuse and the Different Treatment Options
We want people to know that they are not alone in their addictions or in their desires to recover from them. Inhalant drugs are serious, and continued use can have lasting effects that never completely heal or go away.
Have you been abusing inhalant drugs? If you have, you could be addicted to them. Professional treatment is the best option available to you if you would like to get clean.
Do you have questions about inhalant addiction or abuse? Would you like to know more about our treatment program? We are here to help you. Please contact us today.