What is Inhalant Addiction?

Inhalant addiction occurs when a person sniffs everyday household items in order to get high. The fumes of the substance flow through the mouth or nose by huffing, sniffing or snorting depending on what’s inhaled. Unfortunately, not all teens and adults realize the dangers of inhaling because the high achieved lasts a few minutes. Thus causing the person to continue inhaling in order to stay high.

13.1% of those who abuse inhalants reported starting by the 8th grade.

Access to these inhalants is easy for teens whether the products are in the home or bought in a store. Aerosol spray items are hair and deodorant sprays, computer cleaning products, spray paints, and vegetable oils. They contain propellants and volatile solvents. Gases used for inhaling include butane lighters, propane tanks, and whipped cream dispensers. However, products such as ether, chloroform, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are also abused inhalants.
Nitrites come in the form of leather or video head cleaner, liquid aroma, and room deodorizer.

Volatile solvents are products like white correction fluids, dry-cleaning fluids, felt-tip marker fluid, gasoline, glue, and paint thinners or removers.
Drug abuse impacts every socioeconomic background. But according to, inhalant abuse occurs due to child abuse, low G.P.A., and dropping out of school. Therefore, it is wise to pay attention if you suspect your teen or loved one may have an addiction. Even if your family appears to be “normal” drug abuse may be present. So learning the signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse empowers you to help your friend or relative.

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What Are the Symptoms of Inhalant Addiction?

Like any drug, inhalants cause a person to show signs and symptoms of its use. Some of the signs and symptoms are short term while others are long term behavioral, mental, and physical damage.

Mental Inhalant Addiction Symptoms

The mental symptoms affecting inhalant abusers are:

Anger- a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
Anxiety- a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease.
Depression- feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
Irritability- the quality or state of being irritable
Restlessness- the inability to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom.

These symptoms make it difficult for the person to continue with normal daily activities. Loss of enjoyment in the presence of family or friends who don’t inhale could occur. The user’s life grows more dependent on getting and remaining high in order to function.

Physical Inhalant Addiction Symptoms

The physical symptoms of inhalant abuse turn a once happy and thriving individual into a shadow of their former self. The physical symptoms mentioned on include:

A drunk or disoriented look– caused by hallucinogenic effects from the drug
Slurred speech- Inhalants affect motor function, which can cause slurred speech
Nausea or dizziness- Various chemical additives can cause this reaction
Decreased appetite- Inhalants can also cause weight loss
Runny eyes and nose- this can be caused by the effects of huffing gases

Inhalant abuse disrupts the life of the user and those around them. But stopping the cycle of inhaling is easier said than done since withdrawal symptoms trigger the user to get a fix.

What Are the Symptoms of Inhalant Withdrawal?

After a few days the user should feel better as the toxins leave the body. In order to handle the physical discomfort of the body cleansing itself the user needs support. Because while an addict goes through the process of withdrawal some realizations will become clear. Plus if the person struggled with mental health issues before their addiction the symptoms like depression or anxiety will return.

As the withdrawal continues an abuser must find relief from the urge to relapse and start using again. He will develop self-control and implementing it into daily life may create an inner struggle. Next he can let go of the guilt felt from being an addict and causing pain to loved ones. Then he will learn life skills for leading a sober and clean lifestyle.

What Are the Dangers of Inhalant Addiction?

All drugs are dangerous but some have more serious consequences than others. The chemicals found in aerosol sprays, gases, nitrites, and volatile solvents were never meant for prolonged human inhalation. As discussed previously sniffing or huffing these toxins to get high will cause damage to your body. But the real dangers of inhalant addiction could result in a lifetime of pain or death.

Cognitive Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
Inhalants are central nervous system depressants which slows down the brain’s activity. Even more alarming is the impact nitrites has on the person’s self-control. When misused nitrites lowers inhibitions and improves sexual pleasure resulting in unprotected sex and exposure to STD’s. However, the most significant danger is irreversible brain damage. In severe cases the person becomes dependent on the assistance of someone else, has difficulty holding conversations, experiences memory loss, convulsions or seizures, or slips into a coma.

Mental Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
Abusing inhalants can lead the abuser through a see-saw of mental illness symptoms. Hallucinations or delusions can occur putting the user and those around him at risk. But depression or suicidal thoughts may surface. Regardless which symptom the user experiences they are harmful due to the person’s lack of self-control.

Physical Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
The physical dangers of inhalant abuse are extensive. Yet this should not be surprising considering the toxicity of the chemicals flowing into vital organs. Addiction is the most obvious physical danger of inhalant abuse. Convulsions, delirium tremens, and shakiness happens due to long term use which damages your nerves. But loss of hearing, sense of smell and sight impacts your senses. Irregular heartbeat, heart attack or failure, kidney and liver failure, and respiratory problems make it difficult for the body to function. Yet one of the scariest threats of inhalant abuse is Sudden Sniffing Death, according to Sudden Sniffing Death can occur the first or fiftieth time a user inhales. Because of the chemicals entering the body the brain loses oxygen. Stress hormones increase and irregular heartbeat persists until death occurs.

Learn More About Lifeline’s Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

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Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

In a Partial Hospitalization Program, a person will go to the treatment facility on a daily basis to receive care. This treatment includes individual therapy, group therapy, as well as having medical oversight. For those that need plenty of accountability and are in the early stages of recovery, this is an ideal option. Partial Hospitalization Programs can be short term or long term, depending on the needs of the person.

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 Intensive Outpatient Treatment

An intensive Outpatient program involves a patient completing care while living either at home, or while residing in in sober living facility. The person will attend groups for several hours each day, while beginning to reintegrate back into life as a sober member of society. This treatment option can be a good idea for those who have already completed a higher level of care, or those who need low amounts of accountability.

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Sober Living

Sober Living facilities are not treatment centers. Rather, they are sober environments in which a person can live while addressing their addiction. Sober livings don’t provide therapy, but will generally perform regular drug testing, and will ensure that the resident is attending recovery groups, such as AA or SMART recovery. A person can combine sober living with treatment to ensure full accountability through the process.

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