Cleaning fluids, spray paint, markers, hair spray and glue are just a few of the products commonly found in homes or offices that contain chemical vapors that can produce a high when inhaled. These dangerous mind-altering substances are popular because they are easy to acquire, especially by young children and teens who may not have access to drugs or alcohol.
Although many substances can be inhaled, the term inhalants refers to those that are only used by inhaling. People breathe in the dangerous fumes through their nose or mouth – a process called sniffing, huffing or snorting. The high produced by inhalants is usually very brief, sometimes only a few minutes, but users often continue to inhale to prolong the experience.
The main types of inhalants include:
When inhaled, the fumes from these products produce a psychoactive or mind-altering effect as they act on your nervous system and slow down your brain activity. Common effects of inhalants are distorted speech, dizziness and euphoria. You may also feel light-headed or have hallucinations.
If you inhale repeatedly, you may feel less self-conscious and less in control of your situation and surroundings. It may cause you to vomit, feel sleepy or develop a headache. With continued misuse, inhalants may lead to brain damage, seizure and even death.
Aerosol sprays and solvents are highly concentrated products – they have a lot of active ingredients and contain a large amount of chemicals. Inhaling these products can lead to “sudden sniffing death” – causing your heart to stop within minutes, killing an otherwise healthy person, even if it’s the first time you have used an inhalant. Other causes of inhalant-related death include suffocation, which can occur when you try to inhale using a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area.
Long-term effects of using inhalants may include:
Nitrites, which are sometimes used medically to treat chest pain, are often misused as inhalants to improve sexual pleasure by expanding and relaxing blood vessels. Because of this, inhaling nitrites can lead to unsafe sexual practices, increasing the chance of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
When you use inhalants, the chemicals accumulate over time in the fatty tissue of your heart, liver, muscles and brain. Because of this, detoxification from inhalants can take longer than other abused substances, sometimes as much as several weeks to fully cleanse your body of the substances.
Many people do not experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using inhalants, but if you do, they will normally appear a day or two into your detox. Typical symptoms include anxiety and depression, nausea and vomiting, shaking, insomnia and tiredness. There are no medications specifically for treating inhalant withdrawal, but our staff may give you supplements to help counteract the nausea and vomiting.
In most cases, we recommend an in-patient, residential treatment plan for substance abuse if you are attempting to recover from using inhalants. With around-the-clock supervision, this program keeps you safe and secure in an environment where you cannot access inhalants, which are so readily accessible elsewhere.
Before you begin treatment, we conduct a thorough assessment that allows our team to develop a personalized recovery plan for you that takes into consideration any health-related issues that may have been caused by your use of inhalants, and also any co-occurring mental health disorders that may contribute to your addiction. After rehab, we provide ongoing treatment to help you avoid relapse. Through group and one-on-one therapy sessions, Discovery Point offers the ongoing support you need to sustain a successful and lasting recovery.