Inhalants are chemicals that produce fumes. Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth. This is also called "sniffing" or "huffing." These chemicals reach the lungs and bloodstream quickly and cause symptoms that can be life threatening. Types of inhalants include:
Young children and teens can get many of these items easily, which makes them more likely to abuse these types of drugs. Inhaling a product like glue or lighter fluid can be life threatening.
Amyl nitrite ("poppers") is an inhalant used to improve the feelings that you have during sex. If you use amyl nitrate, you may not practice safe sex, which puts you at risk for HIV/AIDS.
Inhalant use disorder is a pattern of using inhalants that leads to serious personal, family, and health problems. The more of these statements that apply to you, the more severe your inhalant use disorder is.
Inhalant use disorder may also be called drug abuse, substance abuse, dependence, or addiction.
The cause of inhalant use disorder is not known. The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Inhalants change the balance of these chemicals in your brain. When you use inhalants, your brain starts to get used to them. Some of these changes may last even after you have stopped using inhalants.
You have a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs if you:
The symptoms of inhalant use disorder depend on how much and how often you use the drugs. The symptoms can be mild to severe, such as:
If you use inhalants for a long time, you may have signs of damage to your nerves and muscles, such as trouble walking, bending, and talking. It can also damage your liver and kidneys.
Sniffing large amounts of inhalants at one time can cause death within a few minutes, even if you are a healthy person.
If you are pregnant and using inhalants, your baby may have learning, growth, and behavior problems.
Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often you use inhalants. Be honest about your drug use. Your provider needs this information to give you the right treatment. He will also ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have blood or urine tests.
Inhalant use disorder can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, you must want to stop using inhalants. Do not try to use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help you get through withdrawal.
If you want to quit, get help.
Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, support groups, and therapy may be helpful. Kinds of therapy may include:
Recovery is a long-term process. Many people with substance use disorders try to quit more than once before they finally succeed. Don't give up. You can quit and quit for good. Get help and try again. Follow-up treatment is very important so that you don’t go back to using drugs.
If you have overdosed, or are having severe withdrawal symptoms you will need to be treated in a hospital. You will also be treated for any health problems such as a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening problems.
The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and make plans to stop abusing inhalants. If you are already seeing a healthcare provider, it is important to take the full course of treatment he or she prescribes.
Get support. Talk with family and friends. Consider joining a support group in your area.
Learn to manage stress. Ask for help at home and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax. For example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.
Take care of your physical health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Limit caffeine. If you smoke, quit. Don’t use alcohol or drugs. Exercise according to your healthcare provider's instructions.
Avoid situations where people are likely to use alcohol or drugs.
Check your medicines. To help prevent problems, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines, natural remedies, vitamins, and other supplements that you take.
Contact your healthcare provider or therapist if you have any questions or your symptoms seem to be getting worse.
People and resources in your community that can help you include your healthcare providers, therapists, support groups, mental health centers, and alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. You may want to contact: