Why People Use Inhalants
Inhalants might seem like an alternative to other mood-altering drugs because they are cheap, can be purchased legally, and are easy to obtain. But that doesn't make them safer. Household products are safe for cleaning, painting, and the other things they're meant to do. But as inhalants, they can be deadlier than street drugs.
There are four main types of inhalants: volatile solvents, gases, aerosols, and nitrites. Volatile solvents, gases, and aerosols can alter moods and create a high.
Effects on the Body
People inhale chemical vapors in several ways, including sniffing, snorting, or spraying the inhalant directly into the nose or mouth, putting it into a bag or other container and then inhaling from there, putting the vapor onto a rag, or inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons.
Because the high from inhalants only lasts a few minutes, some people may inhale over and over again for long periods of time to maintain the high, increasing the amount of dangerous chemicals entering and damaging the body.
Inhalants can cause many changes in the body. Once the vapors enter the body, some are absorbed by parts of the brain and nervous system. All of the inhalants (except nitrites) slow down the body's functions, similar to the effects of drinking alcohol. At first someone gets excited, but then gets tired, has trouble speaking clearly or walking well, gets dizzy, loses inhibitions, and may get agitated.
Other short-term effects of inhaling chemicals include:
Because inhalants are found in most homes, people don't realize they are incredibly addictive. People who become addicted to using inhalants are likely to become long-term users. This puts them at risk for the following health problems:
How Inhalants Kill
Like most street drugs, inhalants can be deadly. Someone can die from abusing inhalants after trying it only once. Causes of death include:
Signs of Inhalant Abuse
Inhalants, like other drugs, have noticeable effects on those using them. Someone on inhalants may suffer from a number of different ill effects, including:
If you think you - or a friend - may be addicted to inhalants, talk to your doctor, school counselor, or nurse. They can help you get the help you need.