Products such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids contain volatile substances that have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties when inhaled. Most people think harmful drugs are only found on street corners or in local pharmacies. But sometimes items commonly found in millions of homes are also dangerous. Inhalants include common household products, such as glues, hair sprays, paints, and lighter fluid, which can be used by individuals to get high.
Inhalants are a diverse group of substances whose chemical vapors can be inhaled to produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Inhalants typically found in a home environment include volatile solvents and aerosols. People tend to abuse different inhalant products at different ages. New users ages 12–15 most commonly abuse glue, shoe polish, spray paints, gasoline, and lighter fluid. New users ages 16–17 most commonly abuse nitrous oxide or “whippets.” Adults most commonly abuse a class of inhalants known as nitrites (such as amyl nitrites or “poppers”).
Effects of inhalants
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Irreversible damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain
- Memory impairment, diminished intelligence
- Hearing loss
- Bone marrow damage
High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs, causing the user to lose consciousness and stop breathing.
Inhalant abuse is a serious addictive disease that requires support from medical professionals. Treatment for inhalant addiction is primarily behavioral. An expert in drug treatment teaches people how to function without drugs handling cravings, avoiding situations that could lead to inhalant use, and preventing and handling relapses.