Are you or a loved one suffering from inhalant abuse? Inhalants can be hard to identify as drugs, but they can lead to addiction just as surely. If you’re worried that a loved one is abusing glue or solvents of gases, read on to learn more about inhalants addiction and abuse.
Inhalants Addiction Statistics
Inhalants represent a wide range of chemicals. Any substance which can be inhaled without burning or heating falls into this category. Inhalant abuse happens when the user inhales the fumes of those chemicals.
The most common inhalants include:
- Lighter fluid
- Solvent liquids
- Aerosol sprays
- Nitrites, including nitrous oxide and amyl nitrite (laughing gas)
All the above chemicals are legal to buy. This makes inhalants one of the hardest type of substance to control. Inhalant use is more common among teenagers, as they are relatively inexpensive to buy.
General Statistics on Addiction to Inhalants
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found more than 21 million people in the US have used inhalants at least once in their lives. Most inhalant users are in their late teens. But, NIDA reports 13.1% of all people between 18 and 25 years of age have used inhalants. For people over 25, the figure is 9.6%.
The statistics are alarming for the younger demographics, with about 2% of 8th-grade children using inhalants in the past month. This figure is 1.2% for children in the 10th grade and 0.7% for 12th graders.
Signs of Inhalants Abuse
Chemicals like glue, gasoline, and paint are easy to procure everywhere. This makes inhalant addiction hard to control. However, the signs of inhalants abuse are easy to spot. Each type of inhalant causes a different high, so it pays to know which is which.
Spray paints and glue cause a strong, brief high followed by a minor crash. These inhalants will disorient the user. Since the high is brief, people tend to binge-use spray paints and glue. This means they inhale every few minutes to maintain a continued high.
Addicts who get high with spray paints will use the can in a bucket or a bag and then inhale from it. This means that an inhalant addict using spray paint will have one or more containers that have paint on the inside.
Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) is used as a propellant in gas canisters. Users will spray this into a bag and inhale before it disperses. Other aerosol sprays, as well as ether and medical gases, work in similar ways.
Solvents include acetone (nail polish remover) and numerous cleaning agents. These are all liquids which turn into gas at room temperature.
The most important thing to know about inhalants is they can be fatal from the first time. The most serious short-term effect is death. This is rare, but terrifying nonetheless.
If you suspect a loved one is using inhalants, keep an eye out for these short-term effects.
- Red eyes
- Skin rashes around the nostrils and mouth
- Slow responses
- Dilated pupils
These can all manifest within minutes from using inhalants. As the high from inhalants is often short, the addict will tend to use again and again. This can lead an addict to withdraw from social interactions for prolonged periods of time.
If your loved one disappears for long periods of time and when they return have one or more of the above symptoms, you should be worried. Also, keep an eye out for these telltale signs:
- Paint on clothes or skin
- Chemical odors and strange smells
- Empty spray paint cans
- Painted rags or rag soaked in chemicals
- Social withdrawal
Dangers of Inhalants Abuse
Inhalant abuse can cause death even from the first use. Every use after that is equally dangerous, and long-term exposure can cause many health problems. While all short-term effects vanish after a few hours, the long-term effects listed below may persist even after detox.
The long-term effects of inhalants abuse include:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of sensation
- Brain damage
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Lung failure
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac arrest
- Frozen trachea
With so many inhalants available in the market, the dangers of inhalant abuse are real for teens. Apart from a bag, a bucket, or a rag, the addict needs no special equipment to use inhalants.
One danger unique to spray inhalants is frozen trachea, which is often fatal. It happens when spray turns from liquid into gas by absorbing heat from the environment. When this happens in the addict’s mouth and throat, it can lead to freezing the trachea.
Prolonged inhalant use can lead to irreversible brain damage, which makes it one of the most dangerous groups of addictive substances for younger users.
A Life Free of Inhalants Addiction and Abuse
Dealing with inhalants addiction and abuse means having to go through a withdrawal phase. While inhalants only cause a mild crash, the symptoms of withdrawal can be severe enough to prevent the addict from breaking free.
Here at Addiction Treatment Services, we help families to guide their loved ones to a drug-free life. Inhalant addiction is dangerous from day one. If left untreated, it can cause serious, irreversible problems.
Don’t wait for the problem to solve itself. We are here to help you or your loved one receive the treatment they need. If you or a loved one suffer from inhalant addiction, please feel free to contact us with any questions about their addiction and the possible treatment options.