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While America’s opioid addiction occupies the spotlight, there’s another lethal risk hiding in the darkness: inhalant abuse. Northlake Recovery has some insight to this dangerous trend on the rise.


Here’s the issue with inhalant abuse, many of these potentially lethal items are completely legal to possess and easily accessible in every home. Inhalants can be spotted in kitchens, bathrooms, and garage areas. There are countless regular items which could be used as a source of abuse, including:


  • Aerosol cooking spray or whipped cream
  • Gasoline
  • Rubber Cement
  • Compressed air or duster



The accessibility and harmless nature of these items are just two of the explanations this craze is such an issue. Inhalants are also very affordable, so there are minimal obstacles to experiment with. Once looked at as a “teenage” dilemma, inhalant misuse has in fact expanded into all demographics.


A Hazardous High

Often described as “huffing,” inhalants offer a high just like alcohol and mishandling involves sniffing the fumes from gasoline or compressed air from cans of duster. It can kill individuals the very first time or swiftly transform into a hazardous behavior.


The high from huffing subsides quickly, lasting only seconds to a few minutes. This fast dissipation promotes repeated usage and abuse for prolonged time frames.


Inhalants deprive the body of oxygen. And considering that the body needs oxygen to survive, huffing is incredibly hazardous. Constantly inhaling in these dangerous chemicals can cause long-term damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys. It can also cause deadly heart arrhythmias. With each breath, the individual is putting their life at risk.


Regina Whitsett, who consults with the Chesterfield, VA SAFE program, states, “If you huff or sniff a product, it can cause you to go unconscious, and then you can go into cardiac arrest and actually die from it.”


Addicted to Fumes

Since inhalants provide a cheap high, individuals sometimes rely on them if they can’t acquire other drugs. For teenagers, however, it’s often a gateway into drug trial and error.


Several years ago, teenagers were deemed the foremost abusers of inhalants. As recently as 2005, neighborhoods saw considerable numbers of inhalant misuse among 8th graders. In the early 2000s, community youth studies in Virginia disclosed many young people had tested huffing gases or glue. On the other hand, since the mid-2000s, teenage misuse of inhalants seems to have decreased. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that, by 2014, fewer than one percent of youth aged 12 to 17 were using inhalants to get high.


On the other side of that information, it’s obvious that adults haven’t lost interest in huffing. The number of adults abusing inhalants has been steady for the past decade. In 2014, about 316,000 American adults were inhalant abusers.


That doesn’t mean this concern is no longer an issue among young people, as this video shows, children globally are misusing inhalants. If this boy’s words are true for other kids, many children rely on inhalant “options” as a brace to make it through the entire day. Just like other drug addictions, the inhalant ends up being more significant than anything; it’s the single focus of everyday living. It loots all goals for the near future and puts the user in a horrendous and potentially life-threatening situation.


Why is This Addiction Difficult to Deal With?

All drug abuse concerns pose treatment obstacles, but inhalant addiction is especially difficult to treat. It’s not unusual for individuals to relapse as many as ten times while they attempt to destroy this fatal routine.


As explaining by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC), most substance abuse programs “are not equipped to deal with the multiplicity, intensity and complexity of problems that the inhalant abuser presents.” Methods used in common alcohol and drug treatment systems just don’t suffice. Often, inhalant maltreatment causes psychological complications and physical harm to the brain. Severe users may need to be treated for a dual diagnosis of mental illness and chemical dependency, due to the harmful impacts of inhalants.


For appropriate treatment, the NIPC advises starting with a medical examination to evaluate any harm to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and heart. They mention the chemicals inhaled throughout huffing can be stashed in fatty tissues for prolonged periods of time, so detox must be longer than normal, lasting approximately several weeks instead of days.


The general treatment time should be extended, as well. Treatment specialists must consider that inhalant users most likely have reduced reasoning and resistance than other addicts, due to the chemicals’ effects on the brain and thought processes. Before moving forward with treatment, providers must evaluate the person’s present capacities of understanding and functioning once more after the drugs have absolutely left their system.


To say these general after-effects can make recovery from inhalant abuse “difficult” is an understatement. As the process of huffing continues, proper treatment must be administered which meets the distinct needs of inhalant abusers and functions to help change this hazardous lifestyle.


If you or a loved one is suffering from inhalant abuse, misuse, or addiction, help is always available with us. Northlake Recovery is equipped to help you overcome, or guide you or your loved one to the proper choices towards the path to recovery. If you are looking for help with addiction, your solution is only one phone call away. Call toll free anytime, 1-(561)-770-6616. You are not alone on this journey.

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