These substances can be classified as drugs, and rehab may be necessary to help people stop using them. People are often surprised to hear that young people are abusing these substances. But statistics tell us that more than 22 million people aged 12 and older have used them to get high in the United States.
Inhalants are incredibly dangerous, which is something people may not realize. Regardless of what type of chemical a person is using, it is filled with risky ingredients that are not meant to be inhaled. Doing so can cause serious, lasting damage to the brain and body.
Because inhalants are made readily available, people tend to think of them as safe. But the younger a person is when they start, the more damage that can be done. 58% of people who abuse these chemicals report having started before the end of 9th grade.
People need to be aware of the dangers of inhalants. We want to provide all of the information a parent might need to identify inhalant abuse in their kids. But please know that adults can fall prey to this addiction too. Either way, professional treatment is typically needed to help people recover.
While it's true that many other illicit substances like meth and crack can be inhaled in order to feel their effects, the "inhalant" category is used to refer to products that are only ever inhaled. Other drugs can be injected, snorted, and smoked as well.
What's more, inhalants are also typically products that are not produced solely for the purpose of recreational use and can oftentimes be found around the house. For instance, certain types of aerosol sprays, solvents, gases, and nitrites can all be used as inhalants. Some common examples of household inhalants are:
When the fumes of these substances are inhaled into the lungs, users will experience a brief (usually only several minutes) high that's characterized by euphoria, dizziness, lack of coordination, and the development of delusions. Some describe it as being similar to the effects of alcohol. Since the high is so short-lived, some inhalant abusers will continue to supplement and prolong the high by using again every few minutes, sometimes for hours at a time.
One of the biggest dangers when it comes to inhalants is the fact that they are so readily available and easily obtained. Similar to cold medicine (also abused more than most people think), while many homes may already contain several if not many products that can be inhaled for a psychoactive effect, users can simply find them at the store as well.
What's more, many of these products are loosely regulated or, as is more likely the case, not regulated at all. Some states, however, bar the sale of certain substances like industrial glues and lacquers directly to minors. But as much as these regulations may help, it's near impossible to regulate all the products that are used as inhalants solely because there are far too many.
A lot of parents have dangerous chemicals in their homes, and they probably do not know their children are abusing them. This is a scary thought, but the reality is that it is happening in Idaho every single day.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare shared some very helpful information for parents about the dangers of inhalants. It answers a lot of their questions, such as:
Young people are much more common to abuse inhalants than adults because they are easier drugs for them to access. Parents should specifically keep an eye on their pre-teen and teenage children to look for signs of inhalant abuse.
Any time they can. Many will use them before school, after school and on the weekends.
Because there are so many different products that can be huffed or sniffed, kids find them virtually everywhere. They also use them anywhere. This includes school, their friends’ houses and even your home.
There could be any number of reasons why kids might feel drawn to using inhalants. Some do it because they can. Others do it because they are bored, or they may be upset about something. There are some children who might use them because they suffer from a co-occurring disorder and they feel the chemicals help with their symptoms.
There are several ways to use inhalants. The most common way is to sniff it directly from the container. Other ways include:
Inhalant abuse may seem like one of the less harmful substance use disorders (due to the short high and the relatively tame physical effects) but the truth is inhalants can be incredibly damaging to the body.
Some of the short-term side effects of abusing inhalants include:
And while these effects alone are reason enough to avoid abusing inhalants, there are also a myriad of persistent long-term consequences that an individual may never recover from such as:
Inhalants are so destructive to the brain that research has shown that even a single incident of inhalant intoxication has been shown to have long-lasting effects on memory and processing speed. What's more, studies have revealed that persistent inhalant intoxication has been linked with Parkinsonism, permanent loss of brain cells, and the occurrence of cranial lesions of white matter.
Beyond the immediately startling effects of inhalants is the fact that children who have not fully developed is the primary demographic that's abusing inhalants. In fact, "inhalants" is the only class of substancethat's used more by younger teens than older teens.
The ease of access along with the cheap costs are some of the main reasons why inhalant abuse is so addictive among this population.
Why does this fact matter? Because the minds and bodies of these children are still in the earliest and most crucial developmental stages. As such, any toxic substance abused at this age will have even more of a detrimental effect than if it were used several years later.
What's more, recurrent inhalant abuse has been shown to correspond with higher rates of psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and developing other substance use disorders when compared to non-inhalant abusers.
Not only is the younger population being disproportionately stunted by what's been called "the forgotten epidemic" that is inhalant abuse, they're also being primed at a young age to develop additional psychological and substance use disorders as well.
The general practice of using inhalants can be referred to in a number of ways such as:
Each of these terms correlates with a certain method of abusing inhalants. Huffing, for example, signifies when an individual inhales the fumes of a substance from a rag that's been soaked. The abuser either holds it up to their face or puts it entirely into their mouth.
Bagging connotes spraying the substance into a bag and then breathing in the fumes and ballooning is similar except used with a balloon rather than a bag.
And finally, sniffing involves inhaling the substance by the nose and snorting is through the mouth.
The inhalants themselves also have a variety of different street names like:
Although inhalant addiction is not as common as other substance use disorders, it is still possible both overdose from and become addicted to inhalants. Withdrawal, then, can occur given an extended period of use. Some of the symptoms of inhalant withdrawal are:
While these symptoms are not typically dangerous, an individual should still seek the help of a qualified professional in order to fully recover from their addiction.
In addition to the immediate signs of inhalant abuse (slurred speech, disorientation, a drunken appearance, etc.) there are also a number of behavioral cues to watch out for including:
In addition to these signs of abusing inhalants, there are also physical signs you can look out for that may indicate someone you're close to has an inhalant abuse problem. For instance, keep your eyes peeled for:
If you suspect someone you love might have an inhalant abuse problem, there are a few ways you can help with their recovery, the most important of which is ensuring they get the help they need.
Most people who get addicted to inhalants do not realize just how addictive they are. It is possible to get addicted to them physically as well as mentally. Getting off them often requires getting some type of drug treatment. Idaho has several options available.
Stopping inhalants may result in withdrawal symptoms, which should be treated through drug detox. Withdrawal can be quite severe, and include symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, cravings and even convulsions. Detoxing helps people have a better chance of avoiding complications and it can lessen the severity of withdrawal.
After detoxing, the individual should move on to a quality Idaho rehab program. This is critical because they need to understand why they felt the need to use inhalants in the first place. If there is a mental health issue present, that can be addressed and treated.
At Ashwood Recovery, we want to help as many people as we can who are suffering because of inhalant abuse. This is a serious problem, and it is important that it is addressed properly. Our outpatient drug rehab program is designed to provide personalized treatment, and we have worked with many people with this type of addiction.
We offer three levels of care at Ashwood Recovery. They are traditional outpatient rehab, intensive outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization. We have two locations, in Boise and in Nampa. We also participate with many of the most popular health insurance plans in Idaho, including Blue Cross of Idaho.
We understand how hard it can be to get addiction recovery help. Inhalants are very powerful chemicals, and getting off them can be difficult. But at Ashwood Recovery, we have a lot of experience helping people who are addicted to these drugs. Each client we work with is an individual with their own needs during recovery. That is why we always offer targeted treatment plans to help meet those needs.
If you or someone you love is addicted to inhalants, we want to you know we are here for you. It is hard to admit that you need help, but once you do, your entire life can change for the better. You will find that we are compassionate, caring and most of all, invested in your recovery.