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 dangerous substances. The achieved high typically lasts only a few minutes, causing the person to use often.
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 can be hair and deodorant sprays, computer cleaning products, spray paints, or vegetable oils. They contain propellants and volatile solvents. Gases used for inhaling include butane lighters, propane tanks, and whipped cream dispensers. 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. According to drugabuse.gov, inhalant abuse might occur due to child abuse, low G.P.A., or 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 people who misuse inhalants are:
Anger: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility
Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease
Depression: feelings of severe sadness, low energy, or low pleasure in life
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 person who is using inhalants could grow more dependent on getting and remaining high in order to function.
Physical Inhalant Addiction Symptoms
The physical symptoms of inhalant abuse turn a once-healthy individual into a person struggling with their physical wellbeing. The physical symptoms (mentioned on drugabuse.gov) 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. Stopping the inhalant use is easier said than done, since withdrawal symptoms trigger intense craving.
What Are the Symptoms of Inhalant Withdrawal?
Can occur with a fever and cause shivering or shaking.
Feelings of severe sadness, low energy, or low pleasure in life.
A continuous pain in the head.
Habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep.
A sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles.
Feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit.
Get rid of chemicals from the body by exuding sweat.
An involuntary quivering movement.
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. Sniffing or huffing these toxins to get high will cause damage to your body. The real danger of inhalant addiction? It could result in a lifetime of chronic pain or death.
Cognitive Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
Inhalants are central nervous system depressants which slow down the brain’s activity. For example, nitrites lower a person’s self-control. When misused, nitrites lower inhibitions resulting in unprotected sex and exposure to STDs. A significant danger is irreversible brain damage. In severe cases, the person using inhalants becomes dependent on the assistance of someone else, has difficulty holding conversations, experiences memory loss or convulsions, or enters a coma.
Mental Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
Abusing inhalants can lead the person through a see-saw of mental symptoms. Hallucinations or delusions can occur which put the person and those around them at risk. Depression or suicidal thoughts may surface. Regardless which symptom is experienced, the person using these substances need care and should seek help.
Physical Dangers of Inhalant Abuse
The extensive physical dangers of inhalant abuse should not be surprising considering the toxicity of the chemicals flowing into vital organs. Damaged nerves, from long-term use, lead to convulsions, delirium tremens, and shakiness. Loss of hearing, sense of smell, and sense of sight are all possible. Irregular heartbeat, heart attack or failure, kidney or liver failure, and respiratory problems make long-term health more difficult to obtain.
Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, can occur the first or fiftieth time a person inhales – because of the brain losing oxygen during inhaling. Stress hormones increase and irregular heartbeat persists until death occurs.
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