Inhalants Use & Abuse

Most inhalants are made from materials that were never intended to be used as drugs. Commonly used household items, such as permanent markers, paint thinner, nail polish remover, vegetable oil sprays and butane lighters are can be used as inhalants. These substances are usually sniffed from a container or huffed from a soaked rag in the mouth and can cause a quick, intense high that’s similar to the effect of alcohol.

Inhalants are the only drug more commonly used by younger teens. 20% of eighth grade students have tried inhalants at least once. For many, this is their first experience with drug use.

Specific Dangers of Inhalant Use

Inhalant users may think these drugs are less harmful because they can be found in most households; however, the long-term effects of inhalant use can be quite serious. Inhalant use may deprive certain regions of the brain of oxygen, leading to permanent brain damage. They can also damage fatty tissues in the brain, causing life-long nerve damage similar to the effects of multiple sclerosis – body tremors and difficulty walking and talking.

In the short-term, inhalant use can lead to immediate heart failure and death, even in first-time sniffers. 1 in 5 people who die from Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome are first-time users. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome occurs when an incident of sniffing causes immediate cardiac arrest.

Signs & Effects of Inhalant Use

  • Chemical smell on breath or clothing
  • Weight loss (over time)
  • Disorientation and lack of coordination
  • Irritability
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