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Sniffing inhalants and aerosols, also known as “taking whippets” or “huffing,” is an inexpensive, albeit a lesser-known form of substance abuse. Products easily found at home or at the workplace, inhalants refer to various substances that people take only be inhaling. These substances include gases, solvents, aerosol sprays and nitrites. Mostly used by young children and teenagers, inhalants contain dangerous substances with psychoactive properties. While the “high” usually lasts for a couple of minutes, people often inhale them over and over again, over several hours, to make the effects last.

Although inhalant abuse has historically been more common in men, its use among women has skyrocketed in the past decade and its effects can affect women and their babies. A women-only rehab center, Sovereign Health of Arizona provides top-notch treatment for inhalant abuse using the most cutting-edge and scientifically-proven treatment methodologies along with evidence-based behavioral therapies including behavioral therapies and experiential therapy.

Abusing inhalants

Often the cheapest and most readily available means of getting high, inhalants starve the body of oxygen producing that temporary high. Considered one of the most obvious forms of abuse, an individual misusing inhalants can have a drunken appearance, slurred speech and become disoriented. In 2016, approximately 600,000 people aged 12 or older with 0.6 percent of adolescents, 0.4 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25, and 0.2 percent of adults aged 26 or older were current users of inhalants.

Individuals using inhalants breathe them in through the mouth or nose in various ways. Following are the ways in which people abuse inhalants.

  • “Sniffing” refers to inhaling the chemical vapors directly from open containers.
  • Breathing the fumes from rags soaked in chemicals is called “huffing.”
  • Some inhalant abusers spray the substance directly into the nose or mouth, or even pour it onto their collar, sleeves or cuffs and sniff them periodically.
  • “Bagging” refers to the user inhaling substance fumes from inside a paper or plastic bag. Bagging in a closed area exacerbates the chances of suffocation.

Following are some of the most commonly abused inhalants.

  • DIY project supplies such as wood varnishes, paint thinner and lacquer.
  • Stationery supplies that include glues, whiteout and felt-tip markers.
  • Cleaning supplies like aerosol air fresheners, keyboard dusters and deodorizers.
  • Aerosol-can cooking supplies including whipped cream and nonstick spray.
  • Art supplies like ink, paints and rubber cement.
  • Shoe polish.
  • Beauty supplies such as nail polish/remover, deodorants and hairspray.
  • Automotive supplies, including gasoline, brake fluid, lubricants and refrigerants.

Inhalant abuse is extremely dangerous and can prove lethal, since an inhalant abuser will seek any substance that can fit the bill, without comprehending different substances have various toxic ingredients that often cannot interact with other chemicals. If a user has multiple chemicals in the system, the result of inhaling can be disastrous making inhalant treatment extremely important.

Inhalant abuse also goes by the following street names:

  • Air blast
  • Ames
  • Bolt
  • Boppers
  • Bullet
  • Bullet bolt
  • Buzz bomb
  • Discorama
  • Hardware
  • Viagra in a bottle
  • Highball
  • Hippie crack
  • Huff
  • Laughing gas
  • Locker room
  • Medusa
  • Moon gas
  • Oz
  • Poor man’s pot
  • Poppers
  • Satan’s secret
  • Shoot the breeze
  • Snappers
  • Snotballs
  • Spray
  • Texas shoe shine
  • Thrust
  • Whippets
  • Whiteout

 Inhalant abuse: Signs and symptoms

Inhalant abuse is never safe with most inhalants affecting the central nervous system and slowing down brain activity. It can cause short-term and long-term effects including slurred speech, dizziness, hearing loss, liver and kidney damage, and brain damage. Following are some common signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse.

  • Elevated and irregular heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nosebleeds
  • Slurred speech

Inhalant abuse: Red flags

Inhalant abuse can be habit-forming, resulting in an addiction. A habit that can have serious health consequences on its users, early identification and intervention serve as the best methods to stop inhalant abuse. Following are some red flags of inhalant addiction.

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Loss of sense of smell and hearing
  • Paint or other stains on face or clothes
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Slurred speech and disoriented appearance
  • Learning and cognition impairments
  • Inattentiveness, irritability and depression

Inhalant abuse: Withdrawal symptoms

With a significantly lower risk of developing a physical dependence on inhalants, many of its users quickly become psychologically dependent on them. Once dependent, a user may experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they stop its usage abruptly. Following are some common inhalants withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation, with shaking
  • Chills
  • Convulsions
  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea

Inside the body

Rapidly absorbed through lungs, inhaled chemicals enter the blood stream and are quickly distributed to the brain and other parts of the body. Depending on the levels of abuse, inhalants abusers can experience loss of consciousness, slight simulation and less inhibition. A heavy usage of inhalants may cause one to experience drowsiness for several hours and experience a lingering headache.

  • Since a wide range of abused substances has multiple toxic ingredients, the plausibility of damages within the body are endless. “Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome” is due to a sudden and unexpected interruption of the heart’s rhythm. All inhalants can produce sudden sniffing death syndrome. Most abused inhalants other than nitrites depress the central nervous system similar to alcohol.
  • Ingredients such as nitrites and paint thinner chemically block the oxygen carrying capacity in the bloodstream. One component of aerosol paints and correction fluid has been linked to liver damage. Inhalants containing toluene weaken the kidney’s ability to control the volume of acid in the blood resulting in kidney stones in the long run.
  • Most inhalants are understood to dissolve the protective myelin sheath that surrounds neurons – resulting in brain cell death and subsequent permanent personality changes, memory impairment, hallucinations and learning disabilities when the cerebral cortex cells are affected. Inhalant-related damage results in loss of coordination and slurred speech. Chronic inhalant abuser’s experience tremors and uncontrollable shaking when the cerebellum is damaged.
  • A common inhalant ingredient Toluene may affect a vision nerve causing sight disorders. Benzene, a component of gasoline – which is inhaled by some – has been known to cause leukemia. Chronic inhalation of nitrous oxide, the whipped cream propellant and hexane an ingredient in some glues and camp stove fuels damages the peripheral nerves that result in a tingling sensation, numbness or total paralysis.

Inhalant abuse treatment

With all that can occur in the body with use of inhalants, a person is most likely to have deeper issue/s fueling them to mistreat their body. Prior trauma, lowered inhibitions due to concurrent substance abuse, or poor decision-making abilities because of an underlying mental disorder might give way to the recklessness that is inhalant abuse.

To be effective, inhalant treatment needs to be inclusive of addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders or simultaneous addictions for recovery to be lasting. A comprehensive treatment for inhalant abuse consists of a thorough inhalant detox treatment at inhalant detox centers followed by counseling and life-skills training.

Detoxification treatment at certified treatment centers helps remove abused substances, reduce effects of withdrawal symptoms and help the patient benefit from the substance addiction treatments offered. A successful detox program is usually followed by an intensive treatment program involving therapy and counseling sessions that help identify the root cause of addiction and assist in recovery.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

A leading substance abuse and addiction treatment center, Sovereign Health provides individualized, evidence-based treatment for mental health, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. At our dual licensed network of facilities, each of our patients is provided individualized treatment basis their needs. Focusing on both the physical and psychological effects of inhalant abuse and its withdrawal effects on users, Sovereign Health offers all its clients proven treatment for substance abuse with an emphasis on wellness and recovery.

A women-only rehab, Sovereign Health of Arizona provides expert-level of care for female patients seeking treatment for substance abuse and addiction. Basis a thorough pre-assessment at our state-of-the-art treatment centers, each of our clients is provided with tailor-made treatment programs including CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), neurofeedback, eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, trauma-informed care and individual, group and family therapy. Additionally, patients at our treatment centers are also offered experiential therapies by our trained staff including yoga, meditation and expressive arts therapy in a safe, supportive and trigger-free environment.

The programs include treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. Additionally, this location provides a special emphasis on treating trauma. For more information on our evidence-based treatment programs, please call our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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