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Inhalant Addiction And Abuse

Overcoming This Unseen Enemy Is possible 
Explore the dark world of inhalant abuse and its devastating effects on individuals and society, as well as treatment options from Thailand's leading addiction treatment center.
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Alcohol and opioids are some of the most commonly abused substances. However, not everyone can access them legally, whether that be due to their age or something else, which is why more and more people are finding other alternatives. One such alternative are inhalants.

What are they, how are people who use inhalants affected, what are some of the symptoms, and how a drug use rehab like Miracles Asia can help with inhalant addiction? Those are some of the questions we will be answering in this article.

What Are Inhalants?

In simple terms, inhalants are chemicals that produce chemical vapors. They can be easily found in most households, as well as workplaces, schools, and more. While they are harmless when used for their intended purposes, they can be very dangerous when someone inhales them, which happens more often than you'd think due to the fact that it results in mind-altering effects that resemble those after alcohol.

Inhalant use, whether it's long-term or short-term, can have severe consequences on the user's health and can even be fatal, which is why treatment for inhalant addiction should begin as soon as it's identified by yourself or your loved ones.

Types of Inhalants

inhalant addiction
Inhalants are not a neat or homogenous group by any means. Precise categorization is difficult due to the fact that they might have different pharmacological effects and are found in dozens, if not hundreds, of different products. The classification system that is we use divides inhalants into four different groups - volatile solvents, aerosol sprays, gases and nitrites.

Volatile Solvents

These are liquid substances that vaporize at room temperature - they can be found in a multitude of household and industrial products. Some examples of products that belong to this group include:
Paint thinners
Dry cleaning fluids
Lighter fluid
Electronic contact cleaners
Nail polish and nail polish remover


These are liquid substances that vaporize at room temperature - they can be found in a multitude of household and industrial products. Some examples of products that belong to this group include:
Spray paint
Hair spray
Deodorant spray
Vegetable oil sprays
Aerosol computer cleaning products


Gases include both those used for medical procedures and those that are used in commercial or industrial products. Here you can find:
Nitrous oxide, also known as the laughing gas
Butane lighters
Whipped cream dispensers


Nitrites could be considered a special class of inhalants, as they affect the people who use them slightly differently than other inhalants. While most affect the Central Nervous System (CNS) directly and are used as mood enhancers, nitrites are mostly used as sexual enhancers, since they dilate blood vessels and relax the muscles. Some of the products that belong to this inhalant group include:
Video head cleaner
Room deodorizers
Leather cleaner
Liquid aroma

Inhalant Addiction and Abuse

Using inhalants is extremely dangerous, no matter if someone uses them for the first or the 100th time - any of them can result in an overdose which could even lead to death. Unfortunately, it might be hard to detect when someone is using inhalants, mainly due to the fact that the effects of inhalant intoxication are short-lived, usually lasting only a few minutes.

There are various ways in which inhalants can be misused, with "huffing" being the most prevalent method. Huffing entails saturating a cloth with a liquid inhalant, positioning the cloth near one's mouth or nose, and subsequently breathing in the fumes. Some individuals opt to inhale the substance straight from the container, either through their mouth or nose.

Others might choose to inhale the substance from a paper or plastic bag or draw in gas from balloons. To amplify the effects, individuals struggling with inhalant abuse and addiction may warm these substances prior to inhalation.

Who Most Commonly Abuses Inhalants?

Inhalants are often used as an alternative to other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids, especially by those who are unable to access them legally. For this reason, one of the largest groups of inhalant abusers is made of children and teenagers.

A survey conducted in 2012 by National Institute on Drug Abuse took a look at the ages of inhalant first-timers. Out of 584,000 aged 12 or older who used an inhalant for the first time, over 60% were under the age of 18. The average age was 16.9 years, similar to a year prior when the average age was 16.4 years.

In 2015, the same survey reported that the overall number of inhalant first-timers increased to almost 2 million people. Out of all of them, about 684,000 were aged between 12 and 17. What's more, based on the results, adolescents were a lot more likely to have used inhalants in the past year than adults aged 18 and over (2.7% for adolescents compared to 0.4% for adults).

Finally, 19% of adolescents who claimed to have used inhalants for the first time within the previous year have used them for at least 12 to 49 days. Markers were among the top choices for which inhalants they used.

How Does Inhalant Abuse Affect Users

The impact of abusing inhalants on the human body is extensive, with both immediate and long-lasting effects.

In the short term, using inhalants can cause a quick, powerful high, along with dizziness, slurred speech, impaired coordination, and a sense of euphoria. These effects fade rapidly, leading individuals to continue inhaling the substance to prolong the high.

Acute inhalant abuse can have severe consequences, such as sudden sniffing death syndrome (SSDS), which happens when the heart ceases to function due to the inhalant's influence on cardiac rhythm. This can happen even after a single use, which is why this type of substance abuse is extremely dangerous. Additional immediate hazards involve asphyxiation, suffocation, seizures, and falling into a coma.

Chronic inhalant use can cause irreversible harm to essential organs like the brain, liver, kidneys, and others. Persistent exposure to these substances has been associated with cognitive decline, delayed behavioral development, reduced motor function, and hearing impairment. Furthermore, using inhalants can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a disorder characterized by muscle weakness and numbness in the limbs.

Inhalant Abuse and Mental Health

Substance abuse, specifically inhalant abuse, can have significant negative effects on mental health. These substances contain toxic chemicals that can cause both short-term and long-term damage to the brain, which in turn impacts cognitive functioning and emotional well-being.

Short-term mental health effects inhalant users can experience may include:
Euphoria or a sense of well-being
Hallucinations and delusions
Impaired judgment and decision-making
Disorientation and confusion
Anxiety and restlessness
Agitation and irritability
Long-term mental health effects of inhalant abuse may include:
Cognitive impairment, such as difficulties with memory, attention, and problem-solving
Emotional instability and mood disorders, including depression and anxiety
Increased risk of psychosis and other severe psychiatric disorders
Impaired social functioning and interpersonal relationships
Inhalant abuse can also exacerbate pre-existing mental disorders and increase the risk of developing new psychiatric disorders. Early intervention and treatment are crucial to mitigate the potential mental health consequences of inhalant abuse.

Inhalant Abuse and Pregnancy

Inhalant abuse during pregnancy poses serious risks to both the mother and the developing fetus. Exposure to harmful chemical vapors can result in a range of complications, including miscarriage, preterm labor, low birth weight, and birth defects.

A study done in 2006 found that pregnant women who abused inhalants were more likely to experience premature delivery and have infants with low birth weight. Moreover, their infants were at an increased risk of developmental delays and behavioral problems, which could persist throughout childhood and beyond.

Inhalants can easily cross the placental barrier, exposing the fetus to toxic substances that may interfere with its growth and development. Toluene, a common ingredient in many inhalants, has been linked to an increased risk of congenital malformations, such as craniofacial abnormalities, limb defects, and neurological disorders.

Inhalant abuse can also result in fetal solvent syndrome, which can cause low birth weight, facial dysmorphology, small head size, as well as muscle tone abnormalities that resemble those happening due to fetal alcohol syndrome.

The Bottom Line - Inhalant Addiction Can Be Treated

how addictive are inhalants
Although the road to recovery will definitely not be an easy one, an addiction to inhalants can be treated. However, it's important that the addiction treatment is done under the supervision of medical staff, especially considering the fact that inhalant withdrawal symptoms can be really hard to deal with on your own.

At Miracles Asia, we understand just how hard recovering from misusing inhalants or any other addictive substances can be, which is why we make sure that the residents of our rehab retreat can focus on the goal by leaving their old environment behind for the duration of the recovery process. We only accept a few people at a time so that we can ensure that all of them receive our full attention and the care they deserve.

Get in touch with us today and learn how we can help you or your loved one overcome the obstacle known as addiction.

Inhalant Abuse - Frequently Asked Questions

Can you overdose on inhalants?

Yes, inhalant misuse can result in an overdose, and it can bring on serious health problems. Inhalant overdoses can lead to severe consequences, including asphyxiation, suffocation, seizures, coma, and in some cases, even death.

Why are inhalants addictive?

Inhalants are addictive for the same reason any other substances that can be abused is - they rewrite the brain and influence its reward system.

What can I do if I know someone is abusing inhalants?

If you know one of your loved ones is using inhalants excessively, it's important that you try to help them, for example, by talking to them and suggesting some solutions on how to deal with the addiction - however, don't force them into anything, as it might have a different result than desired. An inhalant addict should make the decision to get better on their own.

What are inhalant withdrawal symptoms?

Inhalant withdrawal occurs when an individual who has been abusing inhalants for an extended period suddenly stops or significantly reduces their use. Some of the most common inhalant withdrawal symptoms include: Symptoms of inhalant withdrawal may include:
Irritability and agitation
Anxiety and restlessness
Insomnia or sleep disturbances
Depression and mood swings
Tremors or shaking
Nausea and vomiting
Hallucinations or delusions (in severe cases)
It's important to note that the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly depending on factors such as the type of inhalant used, the frequency and duration of use, and the individual's overall health.


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