The use of inhalants is a dangerous game, and its accessibility makes it an especially easy target for children and teens. Inhaling, or huffing, is a popular way to get high due to the substances being cheap, found in grocery stores and locally, and its ease of use. Similar to marijuana, some individuals refer to inhalants as a gateway drug, since abusing inhalants is often used to satiate youth’s curiosity about drugs, making other drugs seem less intense or dangerous. If you suspect you or your loved one has an inhalant addiction, read further or call our helpline to learn more about the treatment programs Archstone Behavioral Health has available to help.
What are Inhalants?
Inhalants are chemicals that, when inhaled or snorted, cause mind-altering effects, producing a high for individuals who use them. Individuals will either inhale directly from the substance or will often soak a rag in the substance to then hold it against their nose or mouth. The categories of inhalants include volatile solvents, nitrites, aerosols, or gases, and common examples of items that may be huffed include gasoline, nitrous oxide, chloroform, paint thinner, spray paint, markers, and nail polish and/or nail polish remover.
Short-Term Effects of Inhalant Abuse
If you think that a loved one is partaking in inhalant misuse, looking for signs similar to alcohol addiction or the effects of alcohol use may prove useful. Similar to alcohol, inhalant use slows down the central nervous system, impacting the brain as well, leading to slurred speech, euphoria, dizziness, and lack of motor coordination. People who partake in inhalant abuse may also start to experience hallucinations or delusions while being high, and frequently breathing in a harmful chemical odor can start to cause headaches, nausea, or drowsiness. Other signs of inhalant abuse include paint stains on the body or clothes, smelling like chemical fumes, declining grades in school, poor hygiene, or withdrawing from others. Inhalants directly impacting the brain means that mental health can also decline as a result of use.
Adverse Consequences of Long-Term Inhalant Abuse
Long term, due to the substance frequently affecting the central nervous system, central nervous system damage can occur, resulting in loss of coordination, delayed development, and brain damage. Other resulting conditions can be weight loss, depression, muscle weakness, and even lasting and potentially irreversible damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. Before an inhalant addiction, someone may only be experiencing substance abuse, but afterward, their situation could be even further complicated with a health problem–or several. Inhalant addiction can have serious and lasting effects on the brain and body.
Unfortunately, it is also possible to overdose on inhalants, which is referred to as sudden sniffing death syndrome. This is when the body experiences heart failure as a result of using toxic levels of the substance– and it can happen whether someone engages in inhalant abuse regularly or whether this is their first time. Unlike paramedics being able to administer Narcan to those who have experienced an opioid overdose, overdoses from inhalant abuse can be more complex to treat due to the need to address the heart attack or seizures occurring as a result of overuse.
Withdrawal Symptoms for Those Addicted to Inhalants
When those who have abused inhalants attempt to stop, individuals experience inhalant withdrawal symptoms. This is because using inhalants regularly causes physical dependence and the body reacts negatively to being without it. Withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and include:
- loss of appetite
- issues with mood
Those who have inhalant use disorder are recommended to receive treatment through a professional addiction rehab program such as those with Archstone Behavioral Health in order to have the best chances of recovery and reduce rates of relapse to substance abuse.
Inhalant Addiction Treatment with Archstone Behavioral Health in Lantana
The first stage in the treatment process for someone with an addiction to inhalants is reaching out to a treatment provider to discuss an inhalant rehab program. Seeking addiction treatment can be difficult and certainly humbling, but progress will never happen unless the individual accepts that there is a problem. Typically, for those who abuse inhalants a long inpatient rehab is needed due to the physical inhalant dependence that is experienced by those who abuse the drug. The detox period is longer than for other drugs because the chemicals accumulate in the fatty tissue of the body and need appropriate time to rid the body.
Inpatient Treatment for Inhalant Abuse
Before inpatient rehabilitation, a treatment provider will reach out to discuss treatment options and what is recommended clinically based on the severity and length of the substance abuse. This also depends on the context as well as other substances the individual may be using simultaneously. While living full-time in the inpatient rehab center, the patient will learn invaluable information and skills to help them return to their environment after graduating from the treatment program. Underlying or worsened mental disorders due to use will be addressed during inpatient treatment through individual and group therapy, opening the door for the individual to feel more comfortable talking about their mental health and learning more appropriate ways to cope with everyday life than by continuing to fuel their inhalant addiction in the future.
Outpatient Treatment at Our Rehab Centers
Our outpatient programs continue to work on the same issues with patients– except the patients are often having a more challenging time due to having returned to their same, triggering environment where they had been using before. Especially since inhalants are so accessible and are often spotted simply on shelves at the grocery store, little reminders like this can be upsetting to individuals and could lead to relapse. The trained addiction specialists at our treatment centers are able to continue to meet with patients regularly in an outpatient setting to ease the transition and encourage them along their recovery journey. Call Archstone Behavioral Health’s treatment center to discuss more treatment options today.