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Chemical vapors dispersed from cleaning products around the house or glue found in classrooms can be abused to get high. There are a variety of products that can be considered dangerous when used for this purpose. Inhalants contain toxins that damage organ function. Some even die on their first or second time using it. Unraveling the latent reasons for addictive behaviors and working towards a healthier lifestyle can be achieved through inhalant treatment at West Coast Recovery Centers. 

Why Are Inhalants Different Than Other Drugs?

Inhalants include any product with chemical vapors that can be inhaled by simply opening a container or pressing a lever. They are legal products to obtain, cheap, and widely available in stores. Teens can easily access these drugs at home and in school. Ironically, items like markers and hairspray, which are typically viewed as harmless, can be lethal when used for reasons other than intended by manufacturers.

Unlike prescribed medications where dosages and a schedule are determined, the act of using inhalants can be classified as abuse. No amount of inhalant use is ever recommended or acceptable as they are extremely toxic. 

Types of Inhalants

More than 1,000 household products contain chemicals that can produce mind-altering effects when inhaled. These chemical vapors fall into the following categories: 

  • Gases 
  • Nitrites 
  • Aerosols
  • Volatile solvents

People use inhalants by: 

  • Breathing in fumes
  • Inhaling from balloons
  • Putting a rag into the mouth
  • Inhaling chemicals from a bag
  • Spraying directly into the nose or mouth

Why Do People Sniff or Huff Fumes?

Individuals of all ages abuse inhalants. However, the problem is more prevalent amongst school-aged children, particularly high schoolers. Many start experimenting with what it means to “get high” by testing out inhalants. 

Different chemicals produce different feelings. For example, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can make a person temporarily black out, losing all sense of connection to themselves or their environment. Amyl nitrite (poppers) can be found in nightclubs. They produce relaxation and a strong high and are sometimes used for sexual reasons. 

How Are Inhalants Dangerous?

Inhalants briefly cause a person to experience hallucinations and impaired judgment. Dangerous behavior under the influence could put themselves and others at risk of harm. Heart failure triggered by inhaled vapors is the top cause of death for this type of drug abuse. This condition is termed “sudden sniffing death syndrome” and can happen to anyone.

Do They Affect Long-Term Health?

The damage that repeated inhalant use can have on the body is extensive. Vital organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs, can all suffer lasting damage. For instance, the heart muscle can become diseased with cardiomyopathy and struggle to pump blood around the body.

Motor, cognitive, and sensory deficits can set in and manifest as problems with: 

  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Memory
  • Speech
  • Eyesight and movement
  • Hearing
  • Personality changes
  • Mental health conditions

Additionally, women who abuse inhalants have experienced menstrual disorders and spontaneous abortions.  

How Can Someone Be Treated?

Treatment first involves detoxification if withdrawal symptoms are present. Studies show that individuals who stop using inhalants can experience symptoms similar to those withdrawing from alcohol. 

Some psychological and physiological symptoms to look out for include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches 
  • Hand tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Depressed mood
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Nausea or vomiting

The process of coming off of substances is not only uncomfortable; it can be dangerous. Another side effect that has been reported amongst those withdrawing from inhalants is grand mal seizures. Someone can sustain a terrible injury or experience brain damage from a loss of oxygen to the brain. If something like this happens while in a detox program, the client will be cared for immediately by medical staff.

A detox program has the benefit of reducing painful side effects and preventing complications before they happen. 

What Comes Next? 

The next phase of treatment entails therapy. At facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers, treatment is shaped around the nature of the condition and client needs. Each person requires a slightly different approach, even if they have the same addiction. 

For inhalant use disorder, clients will likely find the most value in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a class of therapies that change the way clients respond to emotions like anger or boredom so they can engage in more productive behaviors. Hands-on methods like music, art, and adventure therapy fill the client’s day with other activities and help them find meaning and connection in sobriety.

Clients may also benefit from family therapy and joining support groups. If there is something going on in the household that is impacting them, family therapy can provide a space to improve communication and strengthen relationships. Participation in support groups helps the client realize that there are others going through a similar challenge. 

Inhalants pose a serious risk to children and adults who abuse them. A multitude of health problems can develop, including substance use disorder. Detoxification and therapies can cleanse the body and mind of toxins and lead clients on a new path. West Coast Recovery Centers is a treatment facility in Oceanside, CA. We provide care to young adults with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions. Our services are grounded in the philosophy that each person is unique and should be treated as such. Our team gets to really know clients and their aspirations for a healthier life. Our inhalant treatment program is designed with a deep understanding of the impacts this group of drugs can have and the best ways to go about helping our clients. If you or someone you know is struggling with inhalants, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
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