Inhalants: Dangerous, Deadly and Easily Accessible

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Drug addiction has been at the forefront of discussion and has dominated news programs and social media for the past few years. While the rising epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse has grabbed the majority of the spotlight, the truth is that people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are turning to a wide variety of substances in order to get their high. Inhalants are one group of substances that may not get the widespread attention as other drugs, but inhalant abuse is extremely dangerous and can cause death even after short-term use. What is more alarming is the fact that people who abuse inhalants can do so by using a wide variety of products that are easily accessible and purchased.

What are Inhalants?

spray paint

Inhalants are substances such as aerosols, solvents, gases, and nitrates, that users administer exclusively through inhalation. As previously stated, inhalants can by and large can be easily obtained by users because many of these products are commonly found in the workplace or home. Examples of products that can be inhaled include cleaning fluids, spray paints, glues, markers, and paint thinners to name a few. When a person becomes addicted to inhalants, fumes or vapors are taken in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways, otherwise known as “huffing”. When users huff inhalants, they may place a chemically-soaked rag in their mouth, snort or sniff fumes from a dispenser or container, inhale fumes from a plastic or paper bag, or directly spray aerosols into their mouth or nose.

When used for recreational purposes, users consume inhalants for the purpose of achieving a high that is intense but short-lived. These substances affect the body by depressing the central nervous system, inducing effects such as impaired coordination and speech as well as dizziness–the same side effects that can be seen in those who abuse alcohol. As with other substances, an addiction to inhalants can be formed with continued abuse. If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to inhalant products , it is important to seek professional help immediately. The physical and psychological affects of inhalant addiction can have devastating impacts on your health, as well as your emotional well being and social life. By seeking professional help, you break the vicious cycle of addiction and reclaim your life.

The Statistics on Inhalant Abuse

According to information supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalants are more likely to be abused by young children and adolescents and are the only class of substances abused more by younger children than by older teens or young adults. It is estimated that 2.6 million children in the 12-17 age group abuse inhalants each year. Additionally, new users of these substances that are between the ages of 12-15 commonly abuse products such as glue, lighter fluid, spray paints, shoe polish, and gasoline. In later adolescence, those who abuse inhalants will most frequently abused nitrous oxide (also commonly known as whippets).  For those adults who abuse inhalants, they have a  higher incidence of abusing nitrates, otherwise known as poppers.

While maybe not as reported as other forms of drug abuse, it is estimated that one in five American teenagers have abused an inhalant of some form in order to get high. With the abuse of inhalants, the psychoactive chemicals that are present can cause severe physical and psychological damage–and even cause death–even after one use. It is currently estimated that just over half (55% ) of all deaths linked to inhalant abuse are caused by sudden sniffing death syndrome. This syndrome can occur on the first use or any use due to the heart beating rapidly and erratically, resulting in cardiac arrest.

The Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Addiction

person suffering from addiction

There are several hallmark signs and symptoms of inhalant addiction that will be evident if those who abuse these substances. The effects of inhalant have a wide range in severity and can have different impacts physically, psychologically, and socially. The most common signs and symptoms seen with inhalant abuse include the following:

  • Suffocation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Intoxication
  • Hearing Loss
  • Vision damage
  • Blackouts
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Injury to the mouth, throat, and lungs
  • Limb spasms
  • Damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys

If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, it is absolutely important that immediate medical attention is sought. As stated earlier, the effects of inhalant abuse can have severe health consequences and can cause death even after a single use.

Treatment Considerations for Inhalant Abuse

When it comes to finding the proper medical help and treatment for inhalant abuse, the process can be somewhat difficult. Standard drug treatment is largely ineffective because of three reasons. First, the standard medical detoxification stay if 14-21 days is largely ineffective due to the fact that the toxins found in inhalants can stay in the fat cells of addicts for months. Secondly, classic individual therapy options such as talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy may be largely ineffective because of the neurological and cognitive damage that can occur as a result of inhalant abuse. Thirdly, group therapy would also be seen as largely ineffective because of the impulsiveness and poor social skills.

While it may seem that treatment options are limited for those who abuse inhalants, recovery is possible my modifying existing drug treatment programs to specifically address the needs of inhalant abusers. When you are looking for the best treatment options for those who abuse inhalants, you first must find a facility that offers longer periods of medical detoxification that is paired with continual neurological testing and evaluation. You also need to find a facility that uses a team approach in the use of medical interventions, occupational and physical therapy, physical rehabilitation, and mental health interventions. Because of the lasting effects of inhalants, the treatment facility you choose also needs to feature comprehensive aftercare programs.

If you feel like there is no hope in finding treatment for you or a loved one’s inhalant abuse, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center will provide you the quality care and support you need that will thoroughly address your issue. Our holistic-based and team-centered approach is the key to our success, and our experienced team will be with you every step of the way. Call us right now and stop the madness of inhalant abuse.

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