Examples of products kids abuse to get high include model airplane glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, gasoline, the propellant in aerosol whipped cream, spray paint, fabric protector, air conditioner fluid (freon), cooking spray and correction fluid.
Over 2.1 million kids, ages 12-17, have used an inhalant to get high. 1 out of 5 school - aged children in the U.S has intentionally abused household product to get high by the time they reach eighth grade. Some inhalants abuse begins at the age of 10 or 11. Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors or gases that produce mind-altering effects when inhaled.
Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors often found in common household products that contain volatile solvents or aerosols. Inhalants fall into four major categories:
Volatile solvents are industrial, household, art or office supply solvents or solvent-containing products. They include paint thinners or removers, degreasers, dry-cleaning fluids, gasoline, correction fluids, felt-tip-marker fluid, and electronic contact cleaners.
Aerosols are household aerosol propellants and associated solvents in items such as spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, fabric protector sprays, aerosol computer cleaning, products, and vegetable oil sprays.
These are gases used in household or commercial products, including butane lighters and propane tanks, whipping cream aerosols or dispensers (whippets), and refrigerant gases, medical anesthetic gases, such as ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
Origin and medical usage
Inhalants are made in factories with the intention of being used for household, industrial or commercial use. They have no accepted medical use, with the exception of medical anaesthetics such as nitrous oxide. Each inhalant is different in its chemical makeup and origin.
IS IT ADDICTIVE?
Are Inhalants Addictive?
Yes. Heavy users can become addicted to inhalants may suffer cognitive impairment or other neurological dysfunctions which makes quitting difficult. Users develop a tolerance for inhalants over time which means it takes more to experience the 'high' that they used to get from smaller amounts.
LONG AND SHORT TERM
Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce mind-altering effects. Within seconds, the user experiences intoxication and other effects similar to those from alcohol. There are a variety of effects that may be experienced during or shortly after use, including:
- Slurred speech
- Drunk, dizzy or dazed appearance
- Inability to coordinate movement
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Impaired judgment
- Severe headaches
- Rashes around the nose and mouth
- Prolonged sniffing of these chemicals can induce irregular and rapid heartbeat and lead to heart failure and death within minutes.
- Death from suffocation can occur by replacing oxygen in the lungs with the chemical, and then in the central nervous system, so that breathing ceases.
- LONG-TERM EFFECTSLong-term users have experienced:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Serious and sometimes irreversible damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain
- Memory impairment, diminished intelligence
- Hearing loss
- Bone marrow damage
- Deaths from heart failure or asphyxiation (loss of oxygen)
- The Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse Are:
- Short-term memory loss
- Loss of senses
- Irregular gait
- Lack of coordination
- Weight loss
- Lack of concentration
- Spots or sores around the mouth
- Red or runny eyes and nose
- Chemical odor on the breath
- Drunken or dazed appearance
- Loss of appetite
- Excitability and/or irritability, anxiety
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Behavioral problems
- Psychological problems
- Animal and human research show that most inhalants are extremely toxic:
- Chronic exposure can lead to widespread and long-lasting damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Nerve damage can be similar to that seen in individuals with neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
- Chronic exposure can produce significant damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
- Prolonged abuse can negatively affect a person’s cognition, movement, vision, and hearing.
- Highly concentrated amounts of certain inhalants can lead to sudden sniffing death – heart failure and death can occur within minutes of repeated inhalations.
Sudden sniffing death is particularly associated with the abuse of butane, propane, and chemicals in aerosols, and can result from a single session of inhalant abuse by an otherwise healthy person.
Treatment for young people who have been involved in inhalant abuse may be done on an outpatient, residential, or partial hospitalization basis. Therapeutic boarding schools, therapeutic wilderness programs, and residential drug addiction recovery programs all offer effective treatment options for young people who have been abusing inhalants.