The term inhalants refers to a wide range of chemicals that produce an intoxicating effect when consumed in vapor form through the nose and trachea. Users inhale the vapors, an act known as huffing, using everyday household products or industrial chemical products that contain aerosols, gases or solvents. In some instances, certain pharmaceutical products, such as an inhaler used by an asthma patient, may be abused to achieve similar effects.
Inhalants users may attempt to achieve a rapid high by breathing the fumes from an open container, inhaling gases directly from a canister or breathing the vapors or propellant gases stored in a plastic bag. The effects are often immediate, resembling the intoxication produced by alcohol. The amount of a solvent or gas inhaled varies yet the risk of loss of sensation and unconsciousness is a potential side effect, along with headache, nausea and vomiting.
Regular inhalant user risk suffering more permanent damage. That impact can range from arm and leg spasms to loss of hearing, bone marrow damage and even central nervous system or brain damage. Sudden cardiac arrest is another potential risk from inhalant abuse, and a gas inhaled into the lungs can lead to suffocation by depriving the body of adequate oxygen.
Inhalants are commonly known by a variety of street names, including whippets, poppers and snappers. The abuse of inhalants is prevalent in the U.S. as suggested in a study released in 2009 that revealed more than 2 million Americans age 12 and older had abused inhalants. The easy access to legally-sold products—such as computer-cleaning dusters and aerosol air fresheners—that can be used as inhalants makes this form of chemical abuse attractive to teenagers hoping to experience euphoric effects similar to other drugs but without the associated expense.
Addiction specialists at Burning Tree provide treatment for chronic abuse of inhalants, at one of two long-term residential settings in Texas. Burning Tree operates facilities outside of Dallas and Austin, serving individuals from all 50 states. Admissions representatives are available to answer questions about abuse of inhalants. Contact Burning Tree at 866-287-2877 or visit www.burningtree.com.