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Stop inhalent abuse

Inhalant Addiction

Inhalants that are abused are usually in the form of solvents, aerosols, gasses, and nitrates, all of which can be found in most homes. Inhalants refer to common products that can be used to induce intoxication through only inhaling the product. Some other drugs can be inhaled but not classified as inhalants.

There are many products that can be found in the home or workplace that can be inhaled to achieve a high. Spray paints, glue, markers, whipping cream in the can, propane, gasoline, solvents, and cleaning fluids are a few examples. These products contain volatile substances that can have mind-altering effects when inhaled. Most people don’t consider these products as drugs because they were not developed for the propose of being inhaled. These products are abused mainly by teens and pre-teens and are the only class of drug that is abused more by the younger teens than the older ones. A recent study has shown that 13% of 8th graders, 10% of 10th graders and 8% of 12th graders have reported using inhalants.

Our counselors are standing by to point you in the right direction to recovery from inhalant abuse. Give us a call and start the recovery process today. 


addiction to inhalants

How are inhalants being abused and used

There are a variety of ways to inhale or “Huff”, household products through the mouth or nose. Abusers can use a paper bag, sack, or balloon for the huffing of liquid or gaseous materials. They may sniff, snort or inhale straight from the container like glue, duster for computers, or even your whip cream in a can. They may soak a rag is a solvent and inhale it that way. The high that is produced usually lasts a few minutes at most. Abusers repeat the process over and over to prolong the high for a few hours at a time. 
There are distinct chemicals that are abused at different ages. New users from ages 12-15, most commonly abuse glue, spray paints, gasoline, propane, and lighter fluid. Users that start around 16-18 commonly abuse nitrous oxide in the form of whip cream dispensers, whip-its, welding gas, or even medical grade nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is mainly dispensed into a balloon or sealed bag and huffed repeatedly until the desired effect has been achieved. Adults most commonly use a different class of inhalants (nitrates) amyl nitrates, Poppers, Rush, snappers or liquid gold are some of the street names.

inhalants signs of abuse

Signs of abuse 

It is very important for parents to know the signs of inhalant abuse. This will help not only give understanding to the signs but also being informed as to what to do when there is a problem that may need help from an inpatient inhalant treatment center. Signs of abuse can be different, depending on the substance being abused. 

  • Rashes around the face and nose, a direct result of contact with solvents and other chemicals.
  • Speech slurred, disoriented, or intoxicated
  • Mood or behavior changes peer group changes 
  • Stains on the face, hands or clothing 
  • Finding paraphernalia such as plastic bags, empty chemical containers, balloons or rags.
Inhalants can be very dangerous. They enter the bloodstream rapidly, giving the user intense rushes that last for a short period of time. There are no tests that can detect the presence of inhalants in an individual blood stream unlike heroin, marijuana or other drugs.

If you suspect someone of inhalant abuse and they can’t stop on their own, get them help for addiction immediately. This phone call could save their life. 


These common household products that are commonly abused but not intended for human consumption, can cause serious health problems when inhaled.

  • Glues
  • Lighter-fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Propane
  • Compressed gasses, aerosols and dusters
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Whipped cream dispensers
  • Nail polish remover
  • Spray paint

inhalant abuse in teens

Health risks and problems associated with inhalant abuse

  • Lung health diminished
  • Seizures
  • Fatal breathing events
  • Brain damage
  • Inhalant abuse induced coma
  • Sudden sniffing death ” Rapid heart failure”

Symptoms of inhalant abuse

Lawton and Malmquist (1961) and Wyse (1973) describe 4 stages in the development of symptoms associated with solvent abuse.
  •  Stage One (Excitatory Stage): Symptoms may include: euphoria, excitation, exhilaration, dizziness, hallucinations, sneezing, coughing, excess salivation, intolerance to light, nausea, and vomiting, flushed skin and bizarre behavior.

  •  Stage Two (Early Central Nervous System Depression): Symptoms may include: confusion, disorientation, dullness, loss of self-control, ringing or buzzing in the head, blurred or double vision, cramps, headache, insensitivity to pain and pallor or paleness.

  • Stage Three (Medium Central Nervous System Depression): Symptoms may include: drowsiness, muscular un-coordination, slurred speech, depressed reflexes, and nystagmus or rapid involuntary oscillation of the eyeballs.

  • Stage Four (Late Central Nervous System Depression): Symptoms may include: unconsciousness that may be accompanied by bizarre dreams, epileptiform (epileptic) seizures, and EEG changes.
Barnes (1979) notes that the major difference between alcohol drunkenness and solvent intoxication is the occurrence of hallucinations in the sniffers. The presence of hallucinations has been reported in gasoline sniffers (Lawton and Malmquist, 1961; Remington & Hoffman, 1984; Seshia et al, 1978) and Toluene sniffers (Press & Done, 1967)

solvent abuse in teens

Treatment recommendations and guidelines

Inhalant abusers pose different challenges for treatment centers that are not set up to handle complexity in treating this addiction. Chronic abuse of inhalants causes the user to experience psychological, emotional, and social difficulties. The damage that inhalants do to the brain warrant that there be a dual diagnosis component available for the treatment of chronic inhalant abuse. Although many of the treatment options and therapies will be used in the treatment of inhalant abuse are the same as they use in the treatment of other street drugs and alcohol, there needs to be special consideration and care available to treat the specific problems that arise only when treating an inhalant abuser. 

When inhalant abuse is suspected, getting a medical examination will determine what if any medical complications need to be addressed while enrolled in a drug addiction center for inhalant abuse. 

  • Central nervous system damages
  • Kidney (renal) abnormalities
  • Liver (hepatic ) abnormalities
  • Lead poisoning
  • Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
  • Cardiac arrhythmia 
  • Lung  (pulmonary) distress
Our counselors are standing by, waiting for your call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 


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Detoxification for an inhalant abuse

Detox for inhalant abuse is a necessary part of the healing process. Due to the volatility of the substances being abused, the detoxification can take much longer than most street drugs. Residual effects can last weeks, not days, as with other drugs. Patients normally feel a lack of concentration, memory and a general dullness in demeanor. It is not known if the damage to the brain from the use of inhalants, is fully reversible however there are considerable improvements in the brain functionality within a couple of weeks of treatment, that has been well documented by leading professionals in the field of addiction treatment. 

Treatment challenges for inhalant abuse

Neurological abnormalities were seen in 13 of 20 patients with a history of chronic solvent vapor (primarily toluene) abuse for 2 or more years. The patients were evaluated after an abstinence period of at least 4 weeks, to avoid neurological effects of acute intoxication. Neurological signs included cognitive (60%), pyramidal (50%), cerebellar (45%), and brainstem/ cranial nerve (25%) findings. Eight of nine CTs revealed diffuse atrophy of cerebral hemispheres, cerebellum, and brainstem. BAERs were abnormal in three of four patients, and EEG abnormalities were seen in three of seven patients. Chronic exposure to solvent vapor may cause persistent neurological impairment.  
Neurological abnormalities or impairments need to be addressed and diagnosed through a complete make-up to determine if the condition pre-dates the addiction or if the condition was a direct result of the abuse problem. This make-up should include school records to determine any learning disabilities that may help the treatment team determine if there is a need for neurological testing in the treatment process. Once testing has been authorized, there should be a follow-up testing several months to determine if the treatment is showing significant improvements in the brain functionality. 

Addiction Treatment Centers for Inhalant Abuse 

Treatment for inhalant abuse should be longer than the typical 28-day program due to the complexity of issues that can arise during treatment. A non-confrontational program works the best with an emphasis on life skills. This is highly recommended. Programs that offer hands-on learning, seem to offer a better result through action therapies like art, music, dance, theatrical, or recreational therapy. These types of programs help encourage multi-sensory actions and thoughts to assist in the recovery process. 
Limiting the initial therapy sessions to 15-30 min sessions help keep the patient engaged and encouraged. Longer sessions tend to have negative results due to the lack of concentration ability, attention span, in early treatment phases.

Group therapy is necessary for the treatment of inhalant abuse and encouraged when the inhalant abuser is ready. 

Inhalant abusers are extremely hard to treat. Cognitive impairments and disruptive behaviors are common hurdles that the treatment team has to compensate for, while the inhalant abuser is undergoing therapy. This behavior can be related to poor impulse control or lack of social skills due to inhalant abuse. Such difficulties are better handled through more flexible programs, that offer more than one therapy model and have experience in treating inhalant abuse. Give us a call today and we can help you find the right rehab center that will suit your needs the best. 


teen drug rehab centers

Family support and involvement

Family support is very important, not only for the abuser but also the family. Learning about the addiction process and treatment to handle the addiction should include education about inhalants so the family can remove any products from the home that can be inhaled. 


Aftercare is a critical component for the treatment of inhalant abuse, due to the availability of products that can be abused. Continued care will help ensure that the treatment plan is followed after the patient has returned home. 
If you suspect that someone who you love is using inhalants to get high, do not wait for them to come to you for help. Getting someone the help they need may save their life. Give us a call immediately and we can help you find the appropriate treatment center for the specific needs of the individual.


Please Note: This is not an official Assessment or Evaluation form. This form is not admissible in court or for probation officers and is not accepted by caseworkers. Addiction No More is here to help you find treatment for addiction. We can not give any legal advice. If you are looking for a rehab center please fill out this form or call us now.

Disclaimer: This evaluation is not intended to constitute a diagnosis of any disorder. The information provided here cannot substitute for a full evaluation by a health professional which must be done in person. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help locating a treatment center for addiction.

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