Dangers of Inhalant Addiction and Common Poisons Found in the Home
The Prevalence and Dangers of Inhalant Addiction
Inhalant abuse is a dangerous activity that is most common among adolescents. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that nearly 21.7 million Americans over the age of 12 have used inhalants at least once in their lives. Some 13.1 percent of 8th-graders have used inhalants, according to the NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey. Using inhalants can cause significant damage even with just occasional use, including suffocation and cardiac arrest.
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What Are Inhalants?
Inhalants are chemicals that are inhaled through everyday household products like paint thinner, glue, and cleaners. They produce a fast, powerful euphoria rush that comes and goes quickly, causing repeated use to sustain the high. Inhalant abuse involves four kinds of products:
- Household solvents, such as paint thinners, gasoline, lighter fluid, glue, nail polish, and nail polish remover.
- Aerosols, including spray paint, hair spray, deodorant spray, and vegetable oil spray.
Gases, such as butane lighters, propane tanks, and whipped cream dispensers.
- Nitrites, including room fragrance, video head cleaner, and leather cleaner.
- Inhalant abusers usually consume them by using them in various ways. A common method is “huffing,” in which a rag is soaked in the liquid substance and then inhaled through the mouth and nose. The abuser might inhale the substance from a paper bag or directly from the container.
Effects of Abusing Inhalants
An inhalant high has severe effects on the brain and central nervous system, both short and long-term.
Short-term effects of inhalant abuse are similar to those caused by drinking alcohol to excess. They may include slurred speech, clumsiness, and light-headedness. Some users may even experience hallucinations.
The long-term effects can be profound. They may include liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, and bone marrow damage. Inhalants cut off oxygen flow to the brain, which can lead to brain damage. This is especially tragic in younger users since their brains are still developing.
Inhalant Abuse Risk Factors
The greatest risk factor for inhalant abuse is being young. Inhalant use is most prevalent among teenagers, especially those in their early teens. It’s a fast, easy high and probably offers the most significant access since it comes from common household products. Inhalants can be found in any garage or cleaning-supply closet and under any kitchen sink. They’re easy to replace with a quick run to any store, available cheaply and with no proof of age required.
Prevention and Treatment of Inhalant Addiction
Inhalant addiction is relatively rare but is a real problem for those struggling with it. Like other addictions, its effects on the brain make it difficult to resist the substances that create such pleasure. The easy availability of inhalant products adds to the difficulty of kicking the addiction. Walk-through any store or open any kitchen cabinet, and you’re likely to be faced with temptation.
The best way to prevent inhalant addiction is to make sure your children know the dangers of abusing these products. Talk to them about how easy it is to develop a dependence on these substances. You cannot lock up the household products that can become tools of addition, but you can help your children learn why they should not abuse them. Watch your teen for physical signs of inhalant abuse. If you do suspect abuse, monitor the quantities of your household products. If you start running out of them faster than usual, you may have a problem and you may need drug rehab treatment.