Inhalants are chemicals that produce fumes. Examples are glue, paint thinner, and lighter fluid. Dependence means a person feels that they cannot function without using the drug.
Children and teens abuse inhalants because they are easy to get and have mind-altering effects when sniffed or "huffed." These chemicals reach the lungs and bloodstream very quickly and can be deadly. High concentrations of inhalant fumes can cause heart failure or suffocation. Using inhalants with other depressant drugs such as alcohol or sleeping pills can be fatal.
Using inhalants regularly for a long time can cause permanent health problems. These include memory loss, brain damage, personality changes, muscular weakness, fatigue, and nerve damage starting in the hands and feet. Inhalants permanently harm your liver, kidneys, eyes, bone marrow, heart, and blood vessels.
Young people who use inhalants heavily may not learn how to solve problems, handle their emotions, or become responsible adults.
Children born to inhalant-abusing mothers may have growth and development problems.
Inhalants change body chemistry, especially in the brain. At first you may use the drugs because you like the way they make you feel. You are dependent on a drug if you feel you need it to function.
You have a higher risk of becoming dependent on inhalants if you:
You may be dependent on inhalants if you have been using them and:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and substance use and examine you. A sample of your urine may be tested for drug use.
For any treatment to work, you must want to give up using inhalants.
If you have used inhalants for a long time, withdrawal is not easy. When you stop inhaling, you may go through withdrawal symptoms, such as being irritable, restless, depressed, slow, and tired. You may get aggressive or have chills, headaches, and hallucinations. It is best to stop use of inhalants under supervised care.
You may be prescribed medicines to treat agitation, anxiety, depression, mood changes, paranoia, or hearing voices.
Psychotherapy or drug rehab treatments do not always help people who abuse inhalants. Users often go back to abusing inhalants. Follow-up treatment is very important.
The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and stop using inhalants.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for inhalant abuse, contact the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition at 1-800-269-4237 for information on treatment centers.