Are you or anyone you know suffering from inhalant abuse? Get help today
Inhalants is the name given to an extensive range of volatile substances that produce chemical gases that are breathed in - through the nose or the mouth - to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect and commonly result in inhalant abuse.
While these chemicals may have different pharmacological effects in the human body when exposed to them, they are most commonly found in dozens of different household products. Because of their nature and/or presentation, inhalants are often categorized into four general groups: volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites.
Inhalants can cause severe disruption of heart function, and - even more grave - can cause death from cardiac arrest or lack of oxygenation. Abuse of these substances will often result in serious harm to vital organs, including the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver.
Inhalants are abused in a variety of ways, such as:
-"sniffing" or "snorting" fumes from containers;
-"huffing" from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth;
-spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth;
-inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide;
-"bagging" - sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed inside a plastic or paper bag.
Once these chemicals are inhaled, they are absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, through the lungs and quickly reach the brain and other vital organs. Because of this fast-action response after consumption, signs of inhalant use are easy to identify. These include:
- Slurred speech
- Inability to coordinate movements
Since intoxication from inhalants only lasts a few minutes, people who abuse these chemicals tend to extend the effects of the high by inhaling repeatedly over the course of several hours; the inhalant addicts behavior changes so dramatically that they can quickly lose control, consciousness, and may be drowsy for several hours at a time.
Other key elements that can help identify possible inhalant addicts behavior are:
- Chemical odors on breath or clothing
- Paint or other stains on face, hands, or clothes
- Drunk or disoriented appearance
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Inattentiveness, irritability, and depression
- Hidden empty spray paint or solvent containers, and chemical-soaked rags or clothing
Despite the fact that inhalants produce serious long-term effects, when they are used, the first signs seem to mimic those produced by alcohol consumption (initial excitation followed by drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness, and agitation).
Furthermore, signs of inhalant use more often than not, include belligerence, apathy, impaired judgment, and impaired functioning in work or social situations.
Because inhalant addicts behavior is compulsive and lead to long-term abuse, life-threatening circumstances can easily develop. These may include:
-Asphyxiation: repeated inhalations lead to high concentrations of inhaled fumes, which displace available oxygen in the lungs
-Suffocation: blocking air from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head;
-Convulsions or seizures: caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain;
-Coma: brain shut-down while keeping the rest of vital functions;
-Choking: caused by of vomiting after inhalant use;
-Fatal injury: due to accidents, including motor vehicle fatalities, suffered while intoxicated;
-Sudden Sniffing Death - when the heart simply stops after inhaling solvents.
Inhalant abuse is a very serious matter. Anyone who has been found sniffing inhalants should get treatment immediately.
To overcome the abuse and start a path to recovery, an addict must attend a comprehensive rehabilitation program as treatment. Usually, the first steps of the process include getting the person stable and in a position where they can attend professional counseling.
If the case calls for it, the abuser may go through a detoxification process, which will be medically assisted in order to clear their system from the toxins.
After proper detox, the next step is counseling. Psychological therapy will help the addict in understanding why they took inhalants and the dangers of doing so.
It will also serve to identify any additional causes that may not be as obvious to the patient; these could include antisocial behavior, depression and/or any other mental disorder. Since inhalants are often more popular amongst teenagers, Therapists dealing with inhalant addiction will likely be specialized in dealing with this particular age group.
After a recovering addict is found to be capable of returning home, they will be released (if they are in a residential rehab) or the program will simply come to an end (for an outpatient clinic).
Once this stage is completed, most programs suggest that the recovering addict attends relapse prevention programs and support groups in order to create new friendships and - in doing so - staying away from conditions that lead to the inhalant abuse.
Recovery is a lifelong commitment; we can help you or your loved one find rehab centers today, just give us a call at (617) 500-9167 and get support you need.