What are inhalants?
Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled through the nose or mouth to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. Although other abused substances can be inhaled, the term "inhalants" is used to describe a variety of substances whose main characteristic is that they are rarely, if ever, taken by any route other than inhalation. Hundreds of everyday household products are being used by kids to get a quick high by sniffing directly from an open container or "huffing" from a rag soaked in the substance held to the face. Common inhalants used to get high include rubber cement, paint thinner, nail polish remover, gasoline, correction fluids and bleach.
Use of inhalants increased in 2005 among eighth graders. This trend is troubling, since these substances are being abused by younger students.
According to the 2005 Monitoring the Future Study, the proportion of young people who believe it is dangerous to use inhalants has declined among eight and 10th graders over the past five years. (Table 5)
Research indicates a correlation between early inhalant use and delinquent behaviors, substance abuse and other problems later in life. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Section 1, Tables 1.19 to 1.27.)
Effects of inhalants:
Inhalant use can cause a number of health problems, including suffocation and even death.
- Short-term: heart palpitations, breathing difficulty, dizziness, headaches and possibly death.
- Long-term: damage to the brain, nerve cells, heart, lungs, liver, kidney, and possibly death.
Severe health consequences of inhalant use:
- Suffocation - from inhaling fumes when head is covered in a plastic bag
- Convulsions or seizures - caused by abnormal electrical discharges from the brain
- Coma - brain shuts down almost all but most vital functions
- Choking - occurs after inhalation of vomit following inhalant use
- Fatal injury - from accidents suffered while intoxicated
Physical signs of inhalant use
- Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
- Spots and/or sores around the mouth
- Nausea and/or loss of appetite
- Slurred or disoriented speech
- Drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance
- Red or runny eyes or nose
Why do young people use inhalants instead of other drugs?
The products are widely available, inexpensive, easy to conceal and legal. Most users do not realize how dangerous inhalants can be. Many young people start because they don’t think these substances can hurt them. Once hooked, they find it a tough habit to break.
Who is at risk for using inhalants?
Inhalants are second only to marijuana in terms of adolescent drug use, and all kids are at risk. Youth drug use cuts across all geographic, socio-economic, racial and ethnic boundaries.
What can parents do?
Parents are the greatest influence in their teen’s decision to use drugs or alcohol. If you are finding it difficult to initiate conversations with your teen, visit Conversations for Parents and read expert advice about communicating through difficult situations.
SOURCE: Parents: The Anti-drug
CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!