Inhalant abuse is extremely dangerous and can cause death with the first use. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future Survey shows that 13.2 percent of 8th graders have used inhalants. Other surveys show 21.7 million Americans 12 years and older have used inhalants at least once. With so many people trying these dangerous and toxic chemical, parent’s need to know of the signs of inhalant abuse.
What is Inhalant Abuse?
Many drugs are inhaled for administration per doctor’s recommendation. But the term inhalant is reserved for chemicals not prescribed for human use. Aerosols, gases, nitrates, and solvents fit into this category.
Many of these products are in the home without thought to their harm potential. Markers, glue, spray paints, and cleaners are readily available in most homes. Children and adolescents may abuse these products for their mind-altering properties when inhaled.
How are Inhalants Abused?
Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth. This is called huffing and the effects last for only a few moments. But those who huff try to increase the high by repeatedly inhaling over a few hours.
Abusers of inhalants may snort the fumes from a marker or glue bottle. They may spray aerosols directly into the mouth and nose, or fill a balloon or bag with chemicals to snort. Some people even soak rags with chemicals and stuff them into their mouths.
The inhalant abused changes with age. Younger users abuse glue, spray paints, gasoline, lighter fluid, and shoe polish. Older users abuse nitrous oxide known as whippets. Adult abusers use nitrates, known as poppers.
Effects of Inhalant Abuse on the Brain
Like alcohol, inhalants depress the central nervous system. Those who engage in inhalant abuse can suffer from slurred speech, dizziness, light-headedness, lack of coordination, hallucinations, and delusions.
Other Effects of Inhalant Abuse
Because many products used for inhalants are a mix of chemicals, huffing can induce nausea and vomiting. Repeated exposure can cause liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, and bone damage. Lack of coordination and muscle spasms may become chronic instead of temporary side effects.
When a person inhales solvents, he or she cuts off oxygen to the brain. This can cause permanent brain damage. Along with brain damage, highly concentrated solvents can cause sudden heart failure and death even in a healthy young person.
Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse
What makes inhalant abuse even more dangerous is that it can easily go undetected. Signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse are subtle. They include finding potential inhalants in unusual places such as gas cans in a bedroom or multiple lighters but no evidence of cigarettes.
Symptoms of inhalant abuse includes weight loss, fatigue, confusion, poor concentration, headaches, changes in behavior, a drop-in grades, and poor hygiene. Inhalant abuse can cause depression, hostility, irritability, and paranoia.
Get Help for Inhalant Abuse
Huffing is dangerous and can be fatal even the first time. If you suspect someone is inhaling, call Northlake Recovery at (561)-770-6616. Addiction specialists can put you in touch with an intervention specialist to speak to your loved one about inhalant abuse. Call today.