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inhalants
March 12, 2021

Signs and Symptoms of an Inhalant Addiction: Raising Awareness

You probably keep products like paint thinner and nail polish remover around your house without ever considering their potential for misuse as inhalants. However, inhalant addiction is a severe health problem that carries many risks. In preparing to observe National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week, what do you need to know about the dangers of inhalant addictions and how to spot the signs?

What You Should Know About Inhalants

Inhalant abuse can be easy to hide because the substances’ effects are so short-lived and the products used to achieve the high are available virtually everywhere. People frequently abuse inhalants by sniffing or snorting them, though other methods of getting the substance into the bloodstream are also prevalent.

You might dismiss the risks of inhalants like solvents, cleaning products, aerosols and nitrates because the substances of use are such common household items, but these intoxicants can be more dangerous than many hard drugs. Some substances can cause unconsciousness and blackouts, even with the first use. 

Inhalants produce effects akin to alcohol intoxication, including slurred speech, impaired motor skills and a lack of inhibitions. Some inhalants can also cause psychoactive effects such as hallucinations. Because the euphoria these substances create is so fleeting, inhalant users might abuse the product again and again to maintain their high, rapidly increasing their tolerance. When this happens, the user could struggle to feel “normal” and experience powerful cravings when the substance isn’t in their system.

Red Flags of Inhalant Abuse

You might suspect someone you love has an inhalant addiction if you find household products in unusual places, such as cans of spray paint hidden under a bed or in a closet. Other signs of inhalant misuse can be subtle, and might include mood swings, poor hygiene, paranoia, behavioral changes, appetite loss, concentration problems or overall apathy.

Are Inhalants Addictive?

Inhalants carry a potential for addiction and can have severe physical and mental health consequences, including organ and tissue damage, hearing loss, coma and death. People who experiment with inhalants may also progress to using other drugs, which is why early detection of an inhalant problem can be so essential in breaking the cycle of substance abuse. 

Depending on the specific inhalant of abuse, discontinuing use may reverse the harmful effects. However, for some people, the problems may be permanent, such as brain damage that leads to memory loss and an inability to retain knowledge.

What to Do If Someone You Love Is Misusing Inhalants

Someone who has developed an inhalant addiction will continue to get high despite their worsening health and other problems, including financial difficulties and damaged relationships. They may also refuse to admit they have a problem. In this case, a professionally managed intervention can help break through the wall of denial and persuade someone to seek help. If you have tried to approach your loved one about their inhalant use and found they were unwilling to talk about it, you may need to contact a professional to help.

Some people experience physical and psychological withdrawal effects when they try to quit using inhalants. These might include headaches, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, trouble concentrating and intense cravings for the substance of use.

Treatment for an inhalant addiction may require approaches like behavioral therapy, 12-step support groups, family therapy and inpatient rehabilitation. To get help for a loved one before it’s too late, please reach out to the Beach House admissions team. We have become one of the nation’s leading addiction centers by combining clinically excellent practices with a culture of love and understanding. We make lifelong recovery possible in a private, resort-like beachfront enclave. 

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