What Is Inhalant Abuse?

Parents of young adults who are monitoring their medicine chest of prescription drugs and watching out for alcohol or marijuana use may still not be on top of everything. That’s because most American homes are full of inhalants.

What Kind of Products Can Be Inhaled?

Inhalants can be any one of literally hundreds of ordinary products that people keep around the house. Young people sniff or inhale the fumes of these products in order to get high.

Examples include nail polish remover, hair spray, cleansing liquids, spray paint, glues, gasoline, cooking spray and canned whipped cream.

How Are These Products Abused?

Sometimes kids simply breathe in the fumes from the container itself. Other times they do what’s called “bagging,” putting a plastic bag over the product in order to trap the vapors, then inhale the vapors from the bag.

Huffing is another way people abuse inhalants. An absorbent cloth like a sock, rag or even a partial roll of toilet paper can be soaked with the product, placed over the person’s face and they breathe in these dangerous chemicals to get high that way.

What Are the Effects?

In less than a minute the person will start to feel confused, dizzy or lightheaded, with slurred speech and uncoordinated movements. On occasion users have experienced hallucinations.

As fast as the effects come on they also quickly fade. Because of this users repeatedly inhale, a very dangerous practice. Minor problems with huffing or sniffing are nausea and vomiting. People who huff repeatedly may feel fatigued for hours afterward. Headaches are not uncommon.

If a person abuses inhalants long-term an addiction can form, with accompanying withdrawal, weight loss, irritability, trouble focusing and poor coordination. And, like other addictions, inhalant addiction can lead to depression.

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