Drugs come in many forms and can originate from a plant to a prescription and even household products. You can find mind-altering chemicals in your workplace or school classroom even. Some of the least common drugs are called inhalants. Inhalants are substances that are administered only by breathing in fumes by nose or mouth. Such substances include solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, & nitrates.
Inhalants can be a number of products easily bought at the corner store and found in the home or workplace. Some of these products include cleaning products, markers, glue, spray paints, and aerosol dust cleaner. These products aren’t usually thought of as drugs because getting high is not what they are supposed to be used for. Young adults and teenagers mostly use inhalants since they are easier to obtain than other drugs.
What are the effects of inhalants?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), Most inhalants affect the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Short-term effects are similar to alcohol and include:
- slurred or distorted speech
- lack of coordination (control of body movement)
- euphoria (feeling “high”)
People may also feel light-headed or have hallucinations (images/sensations that seem real but aren’t) or delusions (false beliefs). With repeated inhalations, many people feel less self-conscious and less in control. Some may start vomiting, feel drowsy for several hours, or have a headache that lasts a while.
Unlike other types of inhalants, nitrites, which are often prescribed to treat chest pain, are misused in order to improve sexual pleasure by expanding and relaxing blood vessels. They were very popular in the gay community in the disco era and had a come back in the ’90s during the rave scene and went by the name “poppers.” They were sold in gas stations under such names as:
- video head cleaner
- room odorizer
- leather cleaner
- liquid aroma
Other health effects that can cause the user long-term damage are:
- liver and kidney damage
- hearing loss
- bone marrow damage
- loss of coordination and limb spasms (from nerve damage)
- delayed behavioral development (from brain problems)
- brain damage (from cut-off oxygen flow to the brain)
Just like any drug that is abused repeatedly over a period of time, it can become an addiction. And as in any addiction, there are withdrawal symptoms when the user stops taking the drug. Such withdrawal symptoms include:
- mood changes
- loss of appetite
Can inhalants cause an overdose?
Yes, a person can overdose on inhalants. This can occur when a person uses too much of the drug that causes serious harm or death. Inhalants have a lot of chemicals in them that can cause the heart to stop in minutes. This can even happen to a first time user.
Inhalants are especially concerning with addicts in early recovery living in a sober house or halfway houses. One of the requirements for recovering addicts to be able to live in a halfway house is no use of drugs or alcohol. There are drug and alcohol tests that are performed on a regular basis. Inhalants don’t show up on drug tests, so addicts will get high and still be able to pass the drug tests. This can be dangerous for the user and the other occupants living with them trying to stay sober.
If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, the detox center at Allure is here to help. We deliver safe, compassionate, and highly individualized care on a medical basis. Our team of specially trained physicians and nurses is absolutely committed to helping addicts and alcoholics achieve lasting recovery.