A certain report states that around 17 million American adults indicated using inhalants at one time in their lives. In another report, about 16 percent of American students in eight grades reported to have sniffed an inhalant, according to Monitoring the Future whose survey was later published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These scenarios make inhalant addiction treatment a real cause of concern, especially among parents.
Inhalants are chemicals that are usually inhaled by users on purpose because of their euphoric effects. These chemicals are frequently found in the household as they are used in everyday household chores. The three types of inhalants are volatile solvents, gases, and aerosols. Inhalants are widely known as “huffing drugs,” “sniffing drugs,” or “snorting drugs.”
As a way to disguise them, inhalant users employ a variety of street names. These include poppers, whippets, rush, huff, sniff, kick, snappers, bolt, locker room, aimies, climax, glue, bang, whippets, Texas Shoe-Shine, and a lot more.
Common examples of solvents and inhalants include gasoline, glues, antifreeze, rubber cement, lighter and cleaning fluids, correcting fluids, paint thinners, room deodorizers, shoe polish, nail polish removers, hair sprays, cooking sprays, some anesthetics, and household cleaners and waxes.
Various Ways Inhalants are Abused
As the name suggests, inhalants are basically inhaled. This method of ingestion allows the substances to enter the brain so quickly in much the same speed as with an intravenous injection of commonly abused psychoactive drugs. Users also sniff the inhalants directly from an open bottle or container. Another way of taking inhalants is “huffing” from a small piece of cloth that is soaked in the substances and holding it to the face. “Bagging” is another method of ingestion in which case a soaked piece of cloth or an open container is placed inside a bag to concentrate vapors in it before inhaling. Other users go to the extreme of drinking solvents with alcohol. A simpler method of ingestion is by simply spraying inhalants such as aerosols directly into mouth. Inhalants can also be injected directly.
Can They be Addictive?
Compared to several other types of drugs such as opiates (OxyContin, heroin, etc.), inhalants are not as addictive. Despite this fact, however, inhalants still pose the threat of dependence after heavy or continued use. Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms can occur even after a few hours of use.
Developing a Psychological Addiction
Although not physically addictive, inhalants can cause psychological addiction. On some occasions, they cause physical dependence. This is most probably due to the intoxicating effect of inhalants to users. Intense cravings to experience the effect will result in increasingly frequent use.
Symptoms of Abuse to Look For
Habitual use of inhalants can cause symptoms that are damaging to normal body functions to arise, both psychological and physiological. Inhalant addiction can have serious side effects especially to adolescents.
- Short-term memory loss
- Lopsided manner of walking
- Deficiency in coordination
- Weight reduction
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Blisters around the mouth
- Unusual breath (manifestation of chemical odor)
- Lack of appetite
- Drunken or stunned countenance
- Anxiety, bad temper, or unusual excitement
- Indistinct speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Behavioral changes
- Hand tremors
Another clue to spot someone abusing inhalants is the presence of stains or paint on his or her clothing or body. You can also find pieces of cloth having the scent of chemicals in the house or smell poisonous gases in places where the addict was using inhalants.
How Widespread is this Problem?
“Approximately 2.1 million people in the United States 12 years old and above are reported to have abused inhalants in 2009…”
Approximately 2.1 million people in the United States 12 years old and above are reported to have abused inhalants in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. In this report, it reveals that parents had no idea about the cause and origin of their children’s addiction. Inhalant abuse is basically defined as the act of inhaling vapors or gases intentionally through huffing, sniffing, or bagging methods with the intent to experience their euphoric effects.
Inhalant abuse is found widespread among younger children and adolescents age 13 to 15. This is probably because of peer pressure to gain acceptance. In addition, these chemicals are common household products that are easily available and inexpensive. These substances act as “gateways” for youngsters before proceeding to other drugs of abuse. The addictive elements of solvents and inhalants cause habit-forming actions.
Common Effects Associated with Using
Inhalants produce feelings of euphoria, excitement, and dizziness. These and other after effects are commonly felt after three to five minutes of inhalant use. The “high” experienced by inhalant users is almost similar to alcohol intoxication. However, severe intoxication can cause coma, convulsions, and even death. With liberal amounts inhaled, most gases and solvents cause a loss of sensation and unconsciousness. Some of the irreversible effects of inhalant abuse include limb spasms, hearing loss, brain and central nervous system damage, mental retardation, bone marrow damage, kidney and liver damage, and blood oxygen exhaustion. These are the effects associated with long-term use.
What follows are the other side effects of inhalants:
- Excitement and loss of shyness followed by depression
- Alteration of perceptions of space and time
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred speech
- Deficiency in motor coordination
- Runny nose or rash around the mouth and nose
- Panting or gasping
- Mood fluctuations
- Personality changes
- Movement disorder
- Belligerent behavior
- Weak judgment and odd behavior
- Bloodshot eyes and nosebleeds
How it Affects the Central Nervous System
Solvents can quickly travel into the blood. Due to their fat solubility property, inhaled solvents reach the brain rapidly. The myelin sheath covering the nerve cells and the neuron membrane is very high in fat content. Once they reach the central nervous system, solvents act very fast and weaken the function of the nervous system. Furthermore, the fatty tissues in the brain and the central nervous system can be eaten away by the inhaled solvents. In the long run, neurological damage can occur.
Is it Possible to Overdose?
Users face the risk of a severe and probably fatal overdose because they tend to sniff inhalants over and over again within a short period of time. As previously stated, overdose (as with severe intoxication) can cause intense confusion, coma, and convulsions. An irregular and heightened heartbeat can also follow an overdose. To avoid dangerous repercussions, people with weak constitutions should never take inhalants.
What Overdose Signs Look Like
The common signs of overdose are the following:
- Headaches and a buzzing sound in the ears
- Widened pupils and double vision
- Amplified heart rate and uneven heartbeat
- Heightened impulsiveness, activity, and dangerous actions
- Indistinct speech, slow responses, and incoordination
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Loss of consciousness
- Brain damage
Available Options for Treatment
People struggling with inhalant addiction and dependency require immediate treatment. The permanent physiological damage of habitual inhalant abuse requires solid action. Addiction treatment is undoubtedly the best way to help inhalant abusers learn how to live a drug-free life. Inhalant rehab programs can help inhalant addicts understand why they want to get high, learn how to successfully handle cravings, and appreciate the value of having a life free of inhalant abuse and addiction.
Inhalant addiction treatment options include inpatient care (such as therapeutic wilderness programs), residential rehab programs or therapeutic boarding schools, and outpatient care (such as group or individual counseling and 12-step meetings).
The Detoxification Process
“Inhalant detox is about the process of getting rid of the chemicals and toxins in the body…”
People should undergo detox if they feel like they need inhalants to feel a general sense of well-being. Inhalant detox is about the process of getting rid of the chemicals and toxins in the body associated with the inhalants used. Any type of detox requires every drug user to enroll in a detox program to undergo the detox process in a facility supervised by medical professionals. These facilities ensure the provision of specific medications that can be used any time withdrawal symptoms or complications occur. This is a necessary part of treatment and usually involves having to face withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can differ from one individual to another, but it is always a good idea not to undergo this process alone.
Inhalant withdrawal symptoms are somewhat similar to alcohol withdrawal symptoms and include the following:
- Irritability, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and physical agitation
- Hand tremors, elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and rapid pulse
- Insomnia, intense dreaming, sweating, and nightmares
- Impaired concentration, judgment, and memory
- Delirium (disorientation to time, situation, and place)
- Delusions (usually paranoia)
- Rhythmic convulsions
- Nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and loss of appetite
- Increased sensitivity to sounds and alteration in tactile sensations
- Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or tactile)
- Seizures (manifested by loss of consciousness, loss of bladder or bowel control, and falling down)
- Elevated temperature
As with withdrawal from other types of addictive drugs, inhalant withdrawal may involve inconvenient symptoms, which depend on the substance abused. Owing to the toxic properties and possibly deadly nature of inhalant substances, immediate withdrawal treatment is very important.
Getting Rehabilitation for Substance Use Disorder
Inhalant abuse seems to begin early in life. Some individuals use inhalants as a replacement for other drugs. Although research shows that long-term and chronic use of inhalants is difficult to remedy, the potential for recovery is still great for abusers who have the determination to give up the habit. An inhalant rehab program is designed to help inhalant addicts who are suffering from psychological and social issues. However, treatment for inhalant addiction requires care at a drug rehab center. The importance of entering a rehab program to obtain the needed help cannot be overemphasized. This will ensure that determined patients can follow through toward complete recovery.
Getting past an inhalant addiction is more than just breaking the habit and the desire to get clean. The best thing anyone can do about his or her addiction is get help from an inhalant detox program. An inhalant addiction can be successfully overcome through time and commitment on the part of the addict to live a healthy lifestyle.
Choosing the Right Program for You
If you or a loved one is struggling with inhalant addiction or dependence, treatment options are available that can help address your needs. Seeking immediate treatment is a critical decision to make. This is because solvents and inhalants are very poisonous and can lead to dangerous short-term and long-term health effects. Inhalant addiction treatment must be carried out in an inpatient setting with qualified staff to provide care as needed and to take into account any underlying problems related to the addiction and its cause.
Inhalant addiction treatment is primarily focused on neurological, respiratory, cardiac, renal, and hepatic systems. Some patients require artificial ventilation or other types of rigorous medical support. Those suffering from irritability, psychosis, aggression, or insomnia are usually administered sedatives.
Inhalants are the fourth most commonly abused drugs in the world and more than 17 million Americans have taken inhalants. Although inhalant addiction is a serious problem, recovery options are available. Inhalant rehab uses numerous recovery techniques and approaches to treat addiction. Finding a good inhalant rehab is a challenge. Inhalant rehab programs should treat the whole person, not just the addiction. This is called holistic treatment. Normally, there are reasons behind inhalant abuse and addiction. Others use inhalants to self-medicate. Without treating the underlying problems, users will most likely return to using inhalants. Good rehab facilities make sure that psychological issues are addressed to help the addicts overcome addiction.
Inhalant rehab programs can last from two weeks up to three months. A lengthy stay at a rehab facility will ensure that a recovering addict will return home as a clean and sober individual. These rehab programs use a combination of treatment methods and have the necessary staff members and resources to provide care in one location. Inhalant rehab centers usually offer individual therapy, group therapy, detox assistance, support groups, career counseling, and assistance with aftercare programs.