Learn the signs of inhalant abuse with this detailed overview exploring the symptoms, dangers, and potential treatments for inhalant abuse.
Inhalant Abuse is Difficult to Control
There are many different substances that humans will use because they produce pleasant effects. Inhalants can refer to any substance that can be turned into a chemical vapor in order to be inhaled. The purpose of doing this will be to achieve mind altered states. This type of intoxication is most common among young people and those who live in poverty. It is a particularly worrying form of substance abuse because it can be so easy to obtain inhalants legally. There are many household products that can be used to create intoxication when inhaled. This makes inhalants difficult to control. It is a form of substance abuse that can easily lead to permanent brain damage and death.
Types of Inhalants
* Nitrites such as poppers (amyl nitrate) and nitrous oxide
* Ketones such nail varnish remover
* Aliphatic compounds, including butane, propane, and gasoline
* Haloalkane found in different aerosols
* Aromatic hydrocarbon
The actual products that people will use to get high include:
* Cleaning fluids
* Correction fluids
* Deodorant sprays
* Felt markers
* Hair spray
* Leather cleaners
* Lighter fuel
* Nail varnish remover
* Nitrous oxide
* Paint thinners
* Room odorizer
* Spray paints
* Tipex thinner
* Vegetable oil sprays
* Whipped cream aerosols
Many of these inhalants will be found in the average home. This makes it difficult to keep them out of the hands of those who wish to abuse them.
How Inhalants Work
Inhalants produce different effects depending on what has been inhaled. It is still not precisely understood how these substances affect the brain. The only type of inhalant that has been studied to any great depth is nitrous oxide. This is believed to work as an NDMA antagonist and thereby creates anesthesia effects.
Those individuals who use inhalants will experience a variety of symptoms including:
* Distorted thinking
* Increased heart rate
* Loss of consciousness
* Loss of coordination
* Loss of sensation
* Nausea and vomiting
* Slurred speech
* Symptoms similar to drunkenness
The symptoms of inhalant use only tend to last a few minutes. Those who abuse these substances will repeatedly use them, sometimes for hours on end.
How Inhalants Are Used
There are different ways that people can inhale these vapors. Some inhalants, such as propane gas, are inhaled straight from the can. Other solvents can be inhaled after the substance is put inside a plastic bag. Sometimes a cloth rag as a way to filter out undesirable particles in the product. Some young people will pour a substance like glue onto the sleeve of their clothing and inhale it from there.
The Reasons Why Inhalants Are Used
These substances offer an easy and cheap way for people to become intoxicated. The individual may first decide to give them a try because of peer pressure or just to experiment with something new. There is a lot less risk involved in abusing this type of substance because it is not illegal. In many parts of the world it is become harder for children to purchase inhalants, but this is unlikely to be ever fully effective. They are also easily obtained as most homes will have a variety of household items that can be used for this purpose. The other advantage of inhalant abuse is that it only leads to a brief period of intoxication. This makes it easier to hide the abuse.
The Dangers of Inhalant Use
Inhalants can be damaging to both physical and mental health. Long-term abuse can mean irreparable damage and possible even death. Sudden sniffing death can occur after just one inhalation of this type of drug. The other dangers of inhalant abuse include:
* Cardiac rest
* Chronic headaches
* Increased suicide risk
* Increased risk of accident
* Increased risk of other forms of drug abuse
* Loss of control
* Muscle weakness
* Permanent brain damage
* Ringing in the ears
The Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse
The majority of individuals who use inhalants are children. This type of substance abuse will produce changes in their behavior. If parents are aware of the symptoms of inhalant abuse they will be able to take action to remedy the situation. It is important that attempts are made to stop the abuse before permanent brain damage occurs. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with inhalant use:
* Bad breath
* Frequent episodes of coughing and runny nose
* High anxiety
* Intolerance to light
* Irrational behavior and hallucinations
* Irrational anger
* Loss of appetite
* Loss of interest in hobbies
* Mood swings
* Pupils that are dilated
* Secretive behavior and lying
* Signs of exhaustion
* Skin problems
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Inhalant Abuse Statistics
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) report that 18 million people have at least tried inhalants once in their life. It is estimated that about 2 million children under the age of 17, have experimented with these drugs. One of the main reasons why younger children are more likely to abuse inhalants as it is harder for them to get their hands on other intoxicants. As well as young people, there are increasing numbers of adults who abuse these chemicals. Those who live in poverty may view it as a cheap high. The use of poppers is associated with certain types of dance music.
Treatment for Inhalant Abuse
Like other forms of addiction the goal of treatment will be complete abstinence. The first hurdle to cross is getting the individual to accept that they have a problem. Once this happens there are a variety of different treatment options. It is believed that any treatment should be focused specifically on inhalant abuse as this type of substance abuser tends to have unique needs.
Behavioral therapy is often used when treating people who abuse inhalants. This involves helping the individual to live comfortably without the need for such abuse. There are also different support groups that offer help to substance abuser and their families. If the individual has suffered brain damage as a result of their substance abuse it may mean that the extent of their recovery will be limited. Some people never fully recover from long-term inhalant abuse.
Many individuals who turn to inhalant abuse may have done so as a means to escape their problems. This means that when they stop the inhalant abuse these issues may still be there. If nothing is done to deal with these problems the individual may be at risk of turning to other addictions or harmful behaviors. It is therefore necessary to discover the reasons which led to the inhalant abuse. In a number of cases the individual may just need to learn better coping skills.
Inhalant Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms associated with inhalants tend to be mild. The following symptoms have been reported by those coming off these substances:
* Inability to concentrate
* Loss of appetite
* Mood swings
* Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms will usually resolve within a short time period