The Leading Expert in Treatment for Alcohol and Substance Abuse
and Founder of The Hills Treatment Center
Inhalant Addiction

There are four different types of inhalants. These are volatile solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, and nitrites. Volatile solvents are the chemicals that are found in paint thinner, gasoline, permanent markers, nail polish remover and other household products. Aerosol sprays containing propellants and solvents include spray paint, deodorant, and hair care products. The gas category consists mainly of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as whip its or laughing gas. Nitrites are a group of chemicals used as air fresheners and are more popularly used for sexual enhancement rather than to get high.

Signs of an inhalant addiction include:

  • Paint or glue on face and hands
  • Empty or excess glue
  • Used plastic or paper bags
  • Chemical smell on breath, skin or clothes
  • Sores around nose and mouth created by the toxic chemicals
  • Empty spray paint cans or hidden rags
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Weight loss

Inhalants are a group of lethal drugs which have a plethora of detrimental effects. Some effects of inhalants include:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Emotional instability
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of concentration
  • Nose bleeds
  • Inflamed nose
  • Watery or glassy eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Death

Inhalants displace air in the lungs and deprive the user of oxygen, which is a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia damages many cells in the body; however the brain is the most effected. Inhalants may damage the brain to the point where it becomes difficult to learn new things or even carry on an everyday conversation. Inhalant abuse also damages myelin, a fatty tissue that protects nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerves carry messages among eachother and when damaged can lead to muscle spasms and tremors. This can cause difficulty with simple movements such as walking and talking. Some other very harmful effects are hearing loss and bone marrow damage.

Inhalant use can cause sudden death in many ways. The most common death from inhalants is when the heart beats rapidly and irregularly and then suddenly stops, otherwise known as cardiac arrest. Asphyxia occurs when the toxic fumes replace oxygen in the lungs and the person ceasesbreathing. In some cases, the user chokes on his or her vomit and dies as a result. Some addicts simply suffocate because they are breathing out of a bag and not getting any oxygen. Injuries are common for those that use and suicide can occur when the inhalant wears off and the user becomes depressed. These lethal situations can occur from even one use by an otherwise healthy person.
Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Inhalant abuse can cause serious, long term damages to the brain and for this reason many going into treatment for inhalant addiction are dual diagnosis. In addition to assessing the mental state of the addict, medical examination is required to assess the physical damage from inhalant addiction.
Some of these chemicals store in the fatty cells in the body and the inhalant addict might need a long time to detoxify.For this reason among others, inpatient drug treatment is recommended. The inhalant addict could also benefit from a 12 step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to further prevent relapse.

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