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Are Inhalants Addictive?

When we speak about inhalants, we are referring to various substances which can be inhaled to get a quick high. Inhalants can be found in every home and come in various forms. The most Common products that can be used as inhalants are shoe polish, gasoline, glue, and cleaning fluid. Paint solvents can also be used as inhalants.

When these substances are used, the chemicals released by the products are absorbed through the lungs and make their way quickly to the brain and other organs. Sometimes, they cause irreversible damage to the user.

Inhalant users have developed different methods of inhaling these chemical vapors such as sniffing and huffing. Others spray the substance directly into their mouth or nose.

[su_quote class=”cust-pagination”] “The use of inhalants is a big concern since these products are legal and can result in irreparable brain damage or death.” Charles Curie[/su_quote]

 The Effects of Inhalants On the Body

The use of inhalants can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, liver, bone marrow, and other organs. Inhalants have the ability to starve the body of oxygen, forcing the heart to beat irregularly. The users experience nausea and nosebleeds. They can also lose their sense of hearing and smell. Chronic use of inhalants can lead to the wasting of muscles and a reduction in muscle tone. The poisonous chemicals eventually damage the lungs and the immune system.

Inhalant users expose themselves to the risk of sniffing death syndrome, which can occur suddenly regardless of whether they are using the substance for the first time or have been regular users. Inhalants act on the central nervous system, producing mind-altering effects. The user experiences intoxication within seconds, and the effects are similar to those of alcohol. The use of inhalants has both short-term and long-term effects.

 Short-Term Effects

  • –Inability to coordinate movements.
  • Hallucinations and delusions.
  • –Impaired judgment.
  • –Unconsciousness.
  • –Severe headaches.
  • –Drunk, dizzy and a dazed appearance and slurred speech.
  • –The prolonged use of inhalants causes irregular heartbeats, which can lead to heart failure and death within minutes.

 Long-Term Effects

Long-term inhalant users experience the following symptoms:

  • –Muscle weakness.
  • –Disorientation.
  • –Depression.
  • –Lack of co-ordination.
  • Bone marrow damage.
  • Serious damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, brain and the lungs. 
  • Serious health problems, memory impairment, and diminished intelligence.

 Are Inhalants Addictive?

Inhalants are physically and psychologically addictive substances. Users report a strong urge to continue with the use of inhalants, especially if they have been using the substances for some time.

Inhalant addicts who try to give up on the substance suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, muscle cramps, excessive sweating, headaches, agitation, shaking, and hallucinations. In severe cases, the withdrawal symptoms can cause convulsions.

 What is the prevalence of inhalant use Among Americans?

Research reveals that approximately 22.9 million Americans have experimented with inhalants at some point in their lives. Inhalant poisoning affects many people, with around 5000 hospitalizations happening every year and an equal number of emergency room visits. One in five students in America is suspected of using inhalants before they reach eighth grade. Surprisingly, 22% of inhalant abusers who died from sniffing death syndrome suddenly did not have any history of inhalant abuse.

[su_quote class=”cust-pagination”] “[Inhalants are] a particular threat to the youngest of young people, … Many times we have people harmed because they’re thought to be too young to have a serious problem or be at serious risk.” John Walters [/su_quote]

The use of inhalants is quite prevalent throughout the world. In some countries, thousands of children are addicted to these substances. The easy availability of inhalants perhaps makes them convenient for many despite the fact that inhalants are highly addictive.

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