Inhalants – Household Addiction Threats
Inhalants are the fourth most abused substance after alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.
Richard and Karen Doherty took every precaution they could think of in order to prevent their three children from alcohol and drug abuse. They openly talked to each child about the dangers of substance abuse, kept prescription drugs locked away, and recently even purged their home of all alcohol.
However, earlier this year their older daughter came home to a horrifying discovery; her little sister dead from an apparent cardiac arrest caused by inhaling, or huffing, computer keyboard cleaner. Despite all of their precautions, the extreme dangers of huffing and inhalants took the Doherty’s completely off guard.
According to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association, in the past year 1.1 million adults have used inhalants.
Inhalant is a term used to describe a host of household items which produce chemical vapors that an individual can abuse for a mind-altering effect. They can include a vast array of every day items found in businesses and homes such as whipped cream dispensers, hairspray, felt-tip pens, aerosol computer cleaner, cooking sprays, paint thinner, room fresheners, etc. Depending on the product being abused, inhalants are breathed in through the nose or the mouth in a variety of ways, including:
- Sniffing or snorting the fumes from containers
- Spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth
- Bagging, sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag
- Huffing from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth
- Inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide
Regardless of the method used, the euphoria acquired from inhalants typically lasts about 15 to 30 minutes, during which an individual feels a similar “high” produced by other drugs.
Unfortunately, because inhalants are generally regular household items and are legal to obtain, the dangers from abusing them runs the risk of getting overlooked.
Inhalant abuse can cause a wide array of short and long term consequences, including:
Short Term Effects:
- A rapid “high” that resembles alcohol intoxication with initial excitement, then drowsiness, loss of inhibitions, lightheadedness, and agitation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Dilated blood vessels
- Anesthesia, loss of sensation and even unconsciousness
- Impaired judgment and functioning in work and social situations
- Dizziness, drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Depressed reflexes
- General muscle weakness
- Toxic overdose/death
Long Term Effects:
- Overdose risk
- Brain damage, including severe dementia
- Lung damage
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Heart failure and death
Inhalant abuse can cause irreparable damage to an individual’s life. Studies have also shown that inhalant users usually begin smoking, abusing alcohol, and using other drugs at younger ages, as well as, display a higher lifetime prevalence of substance abuse disorders than those who do not use inhalants.
Inhalant abuse can be fatal with as little as one use and is not something that should be taken lightly. If you or a loved one is abusing inhalants, or any other illicit substance, finding the right drug rehab center is the first step to addiction recovery. Call us today!
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