What is Inhalant Abuse?

Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. Inhalants can be divided into four categories:
  1. Volatile solvents-paint thinners and removers, dry-cleaning fluids, degreasers, gasoline, glues, correction fluids,and felt-tip markers
  2. Aerosols-spray paints, deodorant and hair sprays, vegetable oilsprays for cooking, and fabric protector sprays
  3. Gases-butane lighters, propane tanks, and refrigerants whipped cream dispenser
  4. Nitrites-video head cleaners, room odorizer, leather cleaners or liquid aroma (based on the forms in which they are often found in household, industrial, and medical products)
People of all ages abuse inhalants. However-inhalants are abused especially by young children and adolescents. Inhalants are often the easiest and first option for abuse among young people, since they are common household items.

Warning signs of inhalant abuse?

Suspect someone close to you may be abusing inhalants? Here are some common signs of inhalant abuse:
  1. Chemical odors on breath or clothing
  2. Paint or other stains on face, hands, or clothes
  3. Hidden empty spray paint or solvent containers, and chemical-soaked rags or clothing
  4. Drunk or disoriented appearance (some inhalants only last a few minutes)
  5. Slurred speech
  6. Nausea or loss of appetite
  7. Inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression

The effects of abusing inhalants

Irreversible effects of abusing inhalants include:
  1. Hearing loss
  2. Limb spasms
  3. Central nervous system or brain damage
  4. Bone marrow damage
Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs).

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