toll free: 844.955.3042
local tel: 561.464.6505
fax: 561.450.6637

RECO Intensive
140 NE 4th Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33483

Inhalants and the Unfortunate Consequences

Inhalants are common household items or substances that are inhaled for a euphoric high. Because of how easy they are to purchase, inhalants have become particularly dangerous for teens and young people who can buy them at the store or access them in their homes.

What Are Inhalants? 

Most inhalants are easily accessible to anyone, as none of these substances are illegal. They must be inhaled to feel the euphoric effects, causing a temporary high. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), inhalants include the following items:

  • Solvents, or liquids that become gas at room temperature. These may include:
    • Paint thinners or removers, dry-cleaning fluids, gasoline, lighter fluid, correcting fluid (such as Liquid Paper), felt-tip marker fluid, electronic contact cleaners, and certain glues
  • Aerosol sprays. These may include:
    • Spray paint, hair spray, deodorant spray, aerosol computer cleaning products, and vegetable oil spray
  • Gasses. These may include:
    • Butane lighters, propane tanks, whipped cream aerosols or dispensers, ether, chloroform, and nitrous oxide
  • Nitrites. These may include:
    • Room odorizer, liquid head cleaner, leather cleaner, and liquid aroma
    • Prescription medicine for chest pain (such as nitroglycerin)

Their Strong Effect on the Brain

According to NIDA, inhalants have a strong effect on the brain. Most inhalants will affect the central nervous system, which slows down brain activity. The short-term side effects of inhalants are similar to the side effects of alcohol, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination (inability to walk straight or stay balanced)
  • Euphoria, or feeling high
  • Dizziness, which adds to impaired coordination
  • Seizures

Along with euphoria, people may experience lightheadedness as well as hallucinations, which are visions and experiences that feel real but are not. People who continue to use inhalants will eventually damage their brain, rewiring it to need the inhalants, feel less-self conscious about using inhalants, and reinforce negative side effects like headaches, hallucinations, and impaired coordination.

Some people who misuse nitrites, or prescription medicine for chest pain, may do so for sexual performance. Due to the expansion and relaxing of blood vessels, people may think misusing nitrites will help them. Contact a doctor to directly address the improvement of sexual performance. Misusing nitrites is just as dangerous and damaging as misusing other inhalants and does not help sexual performance in the long term.

Their Strong Effect on the Body

Inhalants are just as dangerous for the body as they are for the brain. Because these substances are not meant to be inhaled, they contain harsh chemicals that the body is unable to process. These chemicals damage organs permanently and make the body weaker in some areas. Long-term damages of chronic inhalant use include:

  • Liver and kidney damage due to the processing and filtering of chemicals
  • Hearing loss
  • Bone marrow damage due to chemicals remaining in the bones
  • Muscle spasms or loss of coordination due to nerve damage
  • Brain damage due to delayed oxygen to the brain
  • Delayed behavioral development due to brain damage
  • Seizures or coma due to brain damage

When overused, inhalants will eventually cause death – and if not death, they can definitely cause permanent damage. Brain damage is arguably the worst long-term side effect, as it causes many other conditions. The brain damage from inhalants goes much farther than the brain changes that come from addiction.

Danger of Overdose

A person can also overdose on inhalants. An overdose is the result of the toxic reaction of the inhalant in the body causing death. The risk for overdose is high with inhalants because they often contain highly concentrated active chemicals. A significant amount of these chemicals goes straight to the lungs, the brain, and the bloodstream all at once. There are even some products that can cause an immediate heart attack, which NIDA calls a “sudden sniffing death.”

If you suspect that someone has overdosed from inhalants, start CPR right away and call 911. If you fear there may be dangerous chemicals in the air, call 911 and try to remove the person from the area if you can. If what they inhaled is toxic and still lingering, it is important to protect yourself as well.

Treatment for Inhalants

Even with the damage caused to the brain and body, there are successful treatment programs for inhalant addiction. Be sure to contact your doctor about your withdrawal symptom management. Withdrawal from inhalants can be difficult, so it is important to have support from your family, friends, and treatment professionals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be the most effective for helping people heal from inhalant addiction.

Inhalants are highly addictive and can cause significant damage to the brain and body. The consequences of inhalant addiction can be devastating and hard to overcome. If you need help with your inhalant addiction, RECO Intensive is here for you. At RECO Intensive, we understand how easily what seems like innocent sniffing can become a full-blown addiction. Inhalants are easily accessible, which makes them even more dangerous. Many carry their own warning labels, and there are laws in some states that require a minimum age to buy certain inhalants – but this still does not stop people from trying and using them. The professional staff and experienced alumni at RECO Intensive can create a treatment plan that is specifically catered to you. We offer cognitive-behavioral therapy as well as treatment for inhalants as part of our services. Call RECO Intensive at (561) 464-6533. We want to support you. Let’s get back to a brighter future. 

Recent Articles

Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.