Do you know what some of our young people and adults are doing with common everyday household products?
Abuse of inhalants is an addiction that I’m a little familiar with. A friend of the family has suffered with this addiction among others for quite some time. I know that not only can this addiction consume your life, destroy you psychologically, physically and mentally, but it can affect your baby if there is drug abuse during pregnancy as well. Her daughter is two years old now and has development and speech problems due to this. I hope to give you enough information in this article to answer any questions you may have about this serious addiction. The sooner this addiction is spotted and dealt with, the better.
Inhalant abuse is extremely widespread throughout the United States. Sadly, it may be under-reported because Healthcare Providers and Law Enforcement Officials quite often are unfamiliar with the signs of inhalant abuse. The abusers are primarily adolescents. They inhale chemical vapors from a variety of substances, many of these are common everyday household products they have right at home. Young people are abusing inhalants because of the euphoric feelings they receive, but they are unaware (most of them), of the dangerous potential risks involved which includes brain damage and death.
Young people aren’t the only ones that abuse inhalants; adults abuse them as well. They tend to be nitrite abusers because it enhances a person’s sexual experience. Inhaled nitrites dilate the blood vessels, increase heart rate, and produce a sensation of heat and excitement that can last for several minutes.
I know that parents are concerned with illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and LSD, and in this day and age, understandably so. Many parents though are unaware of the dangers posed to their children from household common products that contain volatile solvents or aerosols. Normal household products that we have in our homes and view as necessary and primarily safe are being abused by many children, young adults, and yes even adults without our knowledge.
Here is a list of some of the toxic items finding their way into the hands of the abuser. I know the list is lengthy but, I hadn’t even thought of some of these. We hope to give you as much information on this subject as possible.
- Computer keyboard cleaner (compressed air)
- Sharpie markers
- Paint thinner
- Model cement
- Rubber cement
- Butane lighter fluid
- Spot remover
- Nail polish remover
- Lighter fluid
- Spray paints
- Aerosol deodorant and hair sprays
- Whipped cream canisters
- Cleaning fluids
A national survey shows that nearly 22.3 million Americans have used inhalants at least once in their lives. This survey comes from the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), shows that 14.9 percent of 8th graders have used inhalants.
How Inhalants are used:
There are many ways Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth. Examples of this are:
- Sniffing or snorting fumes from a container
- By spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth
- Bagging, then sniffing or inhaling the fumes from substances sprayed or poured inside a plastic or paper bag.
- Huffing from an inhalant; soaking a rag then stuffing it in the mouth
- Inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide.
What happens next?
The inhaled chemicals are then absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream through the lungs and quickly distribute throughout the brain and other organs. Within seconds of inhaling, the person will experience intoxication along with other effects that resemble alcohol intoxication.
The alcohol-like effects may include:
- Slurred speech
- Coordination problems
Some users also experience light-headedness, hallucinations, and delusions.
Intoxication may last for only a few minutes so abusers will often try to prolong the high by ‘repeated inhaling’ over the course of several hours. This is extremely dangerous. If a person is a heavy user, they may feel drowsy for several hours and have a lingering headache.
How dangerous is Inhalant Abuse?
It is vitally important that parents, children and educators understand that a single or periodic episode of inhalant abuse can be not only dangerous, but deadly. Inhalants can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest, or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation. Regular abuse of these substances can result in extremely serious harm to vital organs including:
- The Brain
With successive inhalations, the user can suffer loss of consciousness and possibly even death.
Death from inhalant abuse can occur after a single or prolonged abuse.Sudden sniffing death (SSD) can happen within minutes of inhalant abuse from irregular heart rhythm which leads to heart failure. Other causes of death from this dangerous abuse include:
A few ways Inhalant abuse can be recognized
- Chemical odors on the breath or clothing.
- Paint or other stains on the face, hands, or clothing.
- Hidden empty spray paint or solvent containers.
- Rags or clothing that have been soaked with a chemical.
- Drunk or disoriented appearance
- Slurred speech
- Loss of appetite or nausea
- Lack of coordination, irritability, depression, inattentive and neglectful
- Red or runny nose
- Sores or rash around the nose or mouth
- Sneezing and coughing frequently
- Possibly enlarged pupils
- Watery eyes
- Red glassy eyes
Young people don’t always talk our lingo, so here are a few street terms that are used when referring to Inhalants:
- Hippie crack
- Locker room
- Texas shoeshine
- Head cleaner
- Poor man’s pot
- RushToncho (octane booster)
Intervention and Treatment
An intervention can be very successful when it comes to inhalant abuse. A qualified Drug Abuse Counselor or Therapist can help you through this extremely dangerous addiction so that treatment and recovery can take place. Treatment and recovery depends on the inpidual. How long and how extensive the inhalant abuse is will make a difference in what type of treatment is necessary. You may also find that the person abusing inhalants is also abusing other illicit drugs. It’s very important to find the right help. Inpidual counseling, family counseling, and therapy may necessary when treating this addiction so it’s important that a trained professional in this field helps you through this.