What are inhalants?

Inhalants are garage and household chemicals that are found around most homes. They are toxic and poisonous. Inhalants are products that most of us have in our homes and they have a real purpose. These are gasoline, turpentine, propellants in spray products, adhesive products, cleaning products, fuels, solvents and cooking products.

Inhalant Basics

Unlike other drugs of abuse, inhalants are more than one type, and many of them are common household products that are available in most anyone’s home, garage or in hardware stores. Mostly comprised of legal substances and readily purchased over the counter without any type of sanction, their popularity is based on the ease with which they can be obtained. Inhalants are most frequently used by a younger population, ages 12-17. Because they are too young to obtain alcohol legally, kids often begin their experimentation with substances by inhaling products that are around the home. The most common inhalants fall into four categories.

Inhalant Effects

The immediate effect of most inhalants is a feeling of intoxication that resembles being drunk on alcohol. Increased doses may cause loss of sight, hearing, feeling sensation and even consciousness. Some of these can be permanent and may occur after only one use. Because of the high toxicity of inhalants, death may be the sudden result of even a first-time use. Damage done to the central nervous system and other parts of the brain may be permanent or may wear off over time. Nervous tics and spasms are often the result of inhalant use. Other effects may be distorted perceptions of time and movement, emotional disregulation and breathing difficulties brought on by the toxic chemicals contained in inhalants.

Inhalant Dangers

While there are many risks with inhalant abuse, several dangers are unique to this method of getting high. Even when used for the intended purposes, inhaling everyday chemicals can be dangerous due to toxicity; thus, sniffing these chemicals on purpose can result in major health hazards and even death. Some gases have lethal potential when stored under high pressure and released for use and inhaled suddenly. They can instantly freeze the respiratory system of the user, causing sudden death. There is no indication that this is going to happen until the user inhales the vapors of the gas directly from the container and stops breathing due to frostbite.

Inhalant Addiction

The instant effects of inhalant usage are powerful, but because they last such a short time, users will continue to “hit” on the baggie or the open container to get it back again, over and over. The high only lasts for about 10-20 minutes for most inhalants, but the first hit packs such a powerful punch that it leads the user down a garden path to active addiction. Who Uses Inhalants?

Inhalant Mixing

When using inhalants, which are extremely toxic products to begin with, using alcohol or other drugs can be a very deadly combination. Due to the highly flammable nature of some of the gases and sprays, even ,a href="http://www.thegooddrugsguide.com/addiction-types/drug-addiction/nicotine.htm">smoking cigarettes can cause an explosion likely to be fatal to the user and anyone else within range.

Inhalant Legalities

During the 1950s, inhalant use amongst teens became popular and escalated during the 1960s as expanded consciousness became more widespread. Use of inhalants has become a worldwide issue, due to the ready availability of most of the substances used. Ether, model airplane and other glues, nitrous oxide, amyl nitrate and spray paint have all been restricted for sale to minors in most of the U.S. These are common household items in most countries, but poppers have become deadly drugs in the hands of the young who abuse them to get high. Inhalant Laws in the United States

Inhalant Testing

Inhalant presence can be detected in some blood work. In order to verify use, a complete blood count with measures for electrolyte, phosphorous and calcium levels must be done. Along with this, an acid-base assessment, liver and kidney screens, and heart muscle/enzyme testing must be performed. Other tests that give indication of damage done and for presence of evidence is performing specific tests on blood samples sealed with heparin and processed by gas chromaphotography, which can detect the presence of solvents.

Inhalant FAQ

What types of substances are used for inhalants?