What Are Inhalants?
Inhalants are a group of chemicals that produce vapors. People who use inhalants breathe in or snort these vapors, which then take rapid effect in the brain. In the short-term, inhalants cause dizziness, distorted perception, lack of coordination, and a euphoric high. These effects usually only last several minutes, and many people continuously ingest inhalants to prolong them.
There are four types of inhalants:
- Volatile Solvents: A volatile solvent is a type of liquid chemical that vaporizes at room temperature. They include household and industrial products used for a wide variety of purposes, such as paint thinners and removers, gasoline, lighter fluid, nail polish remover, degreaser, glue, felt-tip markers, dry cleaning fluids, and more.
- Aerosols: An aerosol is a chemical that can be sprayed. They include both solvents and propellants, such as hairspray, spray paint, fabric protectors, and other sprayable products.
- Gases: Various household, commercial, and medical gases can be ingested as inhalants. The most commonly abused gas inhalant is nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas.” Nitrous oxide is found in many types of propellant canisters, including whipped cream cans (“whippets”). Other gas inhalants include medical anesthetics, such as chloroform and halothane, as well as gases found in refrigerants, propane tanks, and butane lighters.
- Nitrites: Also known as “poppers” and “snappers,” nitrites are a group of chemical compounds that have significant effects on the central nervous system. Specifically, they act as muscle relaxants and dilate blood vessels, making them popular for sexual enhancement. Examples of commonly abused nitrites include room odorizers, leather cleaners, and liquid aroma.
Regardless of the type, inhalants have many harmful long-term effects. Chronic inhalant use can lead to impaired memory, learning disabilities, blurred vision, agitation, loss of coordination, hallucinations, coma, and death. Ingesting too much of a harmful chemical can also lead to overdose and sudden death caused by rapid and/or irregular heartbeat and sudden heart failure.
Signs of Inhalant Abuse
Snorting, huffing, or otherwise inhaling any substance that is not intended for human consumption is considered inhalant abuse, as is ingesting a consumable substance in any way other than instructed or intended. However, it is not always easy to tell when inhalant use has spiraled out of control.
Some signs of inhalant abuse and addiction include:
- Slurred speech
- Runny nose
- Ulcers, particularly around the mouth and/or nose
- Chemical odors on clothes or body
- Stains (including paint stains) on clothes, hands, or fingers
- Sudden loss of interest in hobbies
- Changes in friend groups
- Unexplained behavioral changes
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
People who abuse inhalants may also show a sudden and dramatic decrease in school or work performance, as well as poor concentration and increased confusion.
How Is Inhalant Abuse Treated?
Regardless of the severity of the abuse or addiction, inhalant use disorders are treatable. Often, treatment involves a combination of therapies, mindfulness practices, and life skills development. Often, individuals with inhalant use disorders are able to successfully achieve sobriety through intensive outpatient care; however, partial hospitalization may be appropriate/needed in some situations. Additionally, individuals may benefit from co-occurring disorder treatment, which address underlying trauma and concurrent mental and behavioral health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
At The Carter Treatment Center, we offer personalized inhalant abuse treatment at our Cumming and Suwanee facilities. We recognize that every situation is different, and every person comes to us with a unique background, history, and story. Our team addresses the individual factors that go into substance abuse and addiction in order to help our clients have the best chance of long-term success.
Contact The Carter Treatment Center Today to Learn More
If you are struggling to control your inhalant use, or if you are concerned about a child or loved one, we invite you to reach out to our team to learn how we can help you and your family take the first step toward healing. We offer a range of services designed to treat moderate and severe substance use disorders, including inhalant abuse, in Cumming and Suwanee. We believe in treating the individual from the inside out, and we are here to remind you that there is hope.