Compared to other kinds of addictions, inhalant addictions are less common and are mainly prevalent within isolated regions. This, however, doesn’t devalue the level of harm they can cause, especially over prolonged use. These chemicals typically found in aerosols, glue, polish, solvents, paint, cleaning fluids, gasoline, and markers give a temporary high, prompting users to inhale them for hours. Ultimately, physical and psychological dependency kicks in quickly, making it almost impossible for patients to function normally without using their substance of choice.

At Just One Recovery Center, we offer effective treatment options for people struggling to free themselves from the shackles of inhalant abuse. We are a respected Orange County, CA drug rehabilitation center dedicated to seeing our clients through each phase of recovery. We aim to get you clean and help you dodge the risk of relapsing.

What are Inhalants?

According to SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse), inhalants are volatile products, often flammable, and can offer psychoactive effects when inhaled. While these substances only provide a short-lived euphoric impact, their mind-altering capabilities are quite identical to alcohol use.

Whether a patient inhales the fumes or the byproducts of a substance, the dangers posed are often devastating in the long haul. An overdose or chronic inhalant dependency can cause irreversible effects or death.

The process of inhaling inhalants goes by different names, including:

  • Huffing
  • Bagging
  • Dusting
  • Sniffing/ Snorting
  • Gladding

Some of the popular slang terms for these substances include:

  • Sniff
  • Poppers
  • Hippie crack
  • Texas shoeshine
  • Snappers
  • Bang
  • Glue
  • Whippets
  • Kick

Classes of Inhalants

Inhalants are consumed by breathing in the fumes of volatile substances. Because these products only offer a high that lasts for several minutes, users often keep inhaling them for hours to enjoy their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects.

Here are some of the common classes of inhalants typically found in household and industrial products:


  • Dry-cleaning fluids
  • Lighter fluid
  • Paint removers or thinners
  • Electronic contact cleaners
  • Glue
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Gasoline
  • Felt-tip marker fluid
  • Correction fluids


  • Leather cleaner
  • Room odorizers
  • Video head cleaner
  • Liquid aroma


  • Vegetable oil sprays
  • Aerosol computer cleaners
  • Deodorant and hair sprays
  • Spray paints


  • Chloroform
  • Propane tanks
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Ether
  • Whippets such as whipped cream aerosols
  • Butane lighters

Different classes of inhalants appeal to different people. While products like Nitrous oxide and Ether are preferred for their anesthetic (painkilling/loss of sensation) properties, other products are chosen for their ability to provide a euphoric or psychoactive effect. On the other hand, nitrites appeal to people who want to enhance their sexual performance and pleasure because they act as muscle relaxants.

Understanding the Adverse Effects of Inhalant Addiction

There are numerous kinds of inhalants, and the spectrum of the dangers they pose is broad. Because these substances contain a metabolite biologically active compound, pinpointing each active compound’s effects can be challenging.

Some of the dangerous and highly addictive chemicals found in inhalants include:

  • Butane
  • Propane
  • Toluene
  • Acetone
  • Chlorinated hydrocarbons

As the name “inhalant” suggests, the substances are consumed by inhaling their vapor through the nose or mouth. Some patients soak the products in a rag while others inhale them out of paper bags or balloons. Those searching for the ultimate high may even heat the substances to intensify their effects before inhaling them.

Some of the effects of using inhalants include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Euphoria
  • Loss of coordination
  • Distorted or slurred speech
  • Excitability
  • Limited reflexes
  • Loss of self-control
  • Dizziness and Blacking out

Apart from the above mentioned temporary effects, patients who use inhalants for prolonged periods may suffer from serious health concerns. These substances can cause:

Neurologic Effects

  • Change in speech
  • White matter degeneration
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Ataxia
  • Tremor
  • Cerebellar degeneration
  • Nystagmus
  • Sensorimotor polyneuropathy

Cardiovascular Effects

  • Myocardial fibrosis
  • Dysrhythmias
  • Sudden sniffing death syndrome
  • Hypoxia-induced heart block

Gastrointestinal Effects

  • Nausea
  • Hepatotoxicity

Neuropsychiatric Effects

  • Dementia
  • Memory loss
  • Apathy
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced attention

Dermatologic Effects

  • Perioral eczema
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Burns

Hematologic Effects

  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Leukemia

Pulmonary Effects

  • Dyspnea
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Pneumonitis
  • Goodpasture's syndrome
  • Emphysema

Renal Effects

  • Renal tubular acidosis
  • Acid-base disturbance
  • Fanconi's syndrome
  • Acute renal failure

The extent of damage inhalants inflict on the body is immeasurable. These substances depress the functions of the central nervous system, even when taken in small doses. A high or overdose of inhalants can, on the other hand, cause loss of touch with reality, unconsciousness, nausea, and death in case of asphyxiation or heart failure.

The longer an addict abuses inhalants, the graver the bodily harm and cognitive effects suffered. Depending on the length of addiction, other health concerns that may arise from inhalant abuse include:

  • Delayed behavioral development
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of coordination and limb spasms

It is also worth noting that inhalant abuse is known to attract other co-occurring disorders. An addict that goes without treatment may gradually develop concerns like:

  • Other substance abuse disorders
  • Damaging behavioral changes/ conduct disorder in adolescents and teens
  • Antisocial personality disorder in grownups

An Overview of the Causes & Risk Factors of Inhalant Dependency

Compared to most drugs and alcoholic beverages, inhalants are cheap, legal, and easy to acquire. This makes them more appealing to young teens and adolescents searching for that quick, inexpensive high. While this is the case, two main factors make certain people more prone to suffering from inhalant addiction than others.

These factors include:


People have certain temperaments and personality traits that are closely allied with their genetics. These traits can increase or decrease their risk of using inhalants. For instance, teens from families with other members who suffer from substance use disorders are more prone to abusing inhalants than their peers from families where no one abuses drugs.


Unfortunately, environmental factors such as regular family conflicts, poverty, sexual abuse, maltreatment, and childhood trauma can increase the risk of developing inhalant use disorder. For instance, an adolescent from a low-income family who has lived through endless high-level family conflicts is more likely to use inhalants than a teen from a clam and well-off family living on the right side of the tracks (posh neighborhoods).

Inhalant Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Inhalants offer a short-lived high, and this makes it quite challenging to identify an addict. Moreover, teenagers and adolescents choose to get high on inhalants because hiding abuse is easier. If you suspect a loved one is using these substances, you can check out for signs like:

  • Drunken appearance
  • Red eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Chemical odors in clothing
  • Unusual smelling breath
  • Anxiety
  • Mouth sores
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty walking/ slowed movements.

There are also other adverse effects of inhalants that you can look for, especially in teens that are still in school or under your care. They include:

  • Deteriorating performance at school or work
  • Academic expulsions or inability to hold a job
  • Sudden onset of mental health symptoms
  • Breathing problems
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Digestive issues

If an overdose leaves a patient unconscious or cognitively impaired, it is crucial to immediately seek medical help. Unfortunately, practitioners have to depend highly on suspicion during inhalant abuse diagnosis. While it is possible to run laboratory blood tests to diagnose acute inhalant intoxication, such tests are often inaccessible during emergencies.

Because of the challenges involved in unveiling an addict, it is often easier for addicts to seek help for their habits. Inhalant abuse manifests with all manner of signs and symptoms that may vary from one individual to another. However, you can tell your dependence on inhalants is getting out of hand if:

  • You have increased the quantity and frequency of using inhalants.
  • You cannot function normally without your daily dosage.
  • You use inhalants even when the situation is not ideal, and you could put yourself in harm’s way.

Dependence on inhalants has physical, cognitive, and even psychological symptoms. The devastating truth is that an addiction can cause permanent brain damage in a matter of days, weeks, or months. The sooner you can get help for yourself or your loved one, the better.

Inhalant Abuse Statistics

Inhalant abuse and addiction are more prevalent among teens and adolescents. Studies show equal scales in the number of 8th graders who use marijuana and those that use inhalants. The kids affected are approximately between 13.1% to 16.1%, although national surveys proceed to show that about 21.7 million Americans have sniffed inhalants at least once at some point in their lives.

One of the critical reasons why inhalants are a top choice for teenagers is because they are cheap and provide a temporary high that is easy to conceal, at least for a while. Kids who use volatile substances for prolonged periods develop a psychological and physical dependency that makes it hard or impossible for them to control their cravings and urges.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders indicates that around 0.4% of youngsters aged between 12 to 17 use inhalants for the first time each year. About 0.02% of people above the legal age (18 years) abuse inhalants for the first time yearly. Generally speaking, about 10% of 17-year-olds in America have used inhalants at least once in their life.

These are shocking numbers, primarily because of the age groups of inhalant abusers and addicts. The availability of these volatile substances in standard household products like air fresheners and nail polish also plays a significant role in increasing the alarming frequency of inhalant abuse among young people.

Fortunately, you can reduce the odds of your child falling victim through self-education. Parents must educate themselves about common household products that contain volatile substances. Additionally, it is crucial to be well-acquainted with the dangers and warning signs of inhalant abuse.

How to Intervene and Persuade a Loved One to Seek Treatment

When it comes to inhalant abuse, the only way to tell that your teen is dependent on inhalants is if they confess or you find their hand in the cookie jar. Even with signs and symptoms that show that something is amiss, talking about addiction is frightening and shameful. It is crucial to intervene with love and compassion to prevent a situation from going from bad to worse.

Once you have talked to a loved one about their addiction and the need to seek treatment, you are a step closer to helping them obtain the much-needed help. You can use two intervention methods, depending on whether a patient is in denial or is ready to seek treatment.

Surprise Intervention

Surprise interventions may be necessary if the life and health of an addict are at stake. This kind of intervention should only be considered as a last resort. Unfortunately, it does not offer the best treatment success chances because the situation often becomes too uncomfortable and confrontational.

Planned Intervention

Planned intervention is by far the best intervention method to use, even when dealing with addicts in denial. It involves meeting with a certified intervention specialist. The professional’s skills and expertise can sometimes make the difference between an addict turning hostile and making a smooth and swift recovery.

If you need help with planned intervention, you can count on us. At Just One Recovery, we have the best intervention specialists who can lend a hand with structuring conversation with an addict. We could be just what your loved one needs to take the first step into recovery and rehabilitation. Besides cognitive behavioral therapy, we also use motivational incentives and other strategies to identify and implement the most effective treatment option for different patients.

Find a Drug Rehab Center Near Me

Inhalant addiction poses a significant risk of developing a myriad of other serious substance use disorders. Irrespective of the abused product, patients suffer grave physical and emotional consequences, not to mention that prolonged use can cause irreversible physical and cognitive damage. Just One Recovery is one of the leading drug rehabilitation centers in Orange County, CA. We focus on providing individualized care to increase patients’ chances of making an effective and complete recovery the first time they seek treatment. Our team of experts has your best interests at heart and takes pride in getting each patient clean using personalized treatment plans. If you are hooked on inhalants, you are not alone. Call us at 714-538-8085 to get the help you deserve.