Although people tend to associate harmful drugs
with drug dealers or even pharmacies, they can also be found in your
garage or home. To get high, some people inhale the chemical vapors
produced by common household substances. This is a very dangerous,
often deadly practice.
The class of intoxicants known as "inhalants"
encompasses a wide range of chemicals found in hundreds of different
everyday products. Precise categorization is difficult, since inhalant
chemicals have different effects on the body.
One classification system lists four general
categories of inhalants - volatile solvents, aerosol, gases, and
nitrites - based on the form in which they are often found in
household, industrial, and medical products.
- Volatile solvents are
liquids that vaporize at room temperatures. They are found in many
cheap, easily available products used for common household and
industrial purposes. These include paint thinners and removers,
dry-cleaning fluids, degreasers, gasoline, glues, felt-tip markers and
- Aerosols are sprays that
contain propellants and solvents, including spray paints, deodorants,
hair sprays, vegetable oil sprays for cooking and fabric protector
- Gases include medical
anesthetics, as well as gases used in household or commercial products.
Medical anesthetic gases include ether, chloroform, halothane, and
nitrous oxide (commonly called "laughing gas"). Of these, nitrous oxide
is the most abused.
- Nitrites are often
considered a special class, since they don’t act directly on the
central nervous system (CNS) like other inhalants. Nitrites act
primarily to dilate blood vessels and relax the muscles. And while
other inhalants are used to alter mood, nitrites are used primarily as
sexual enhancers. Nitrites include cyclohexyl nitrite, isoamyl (amyl)
nitrite, and isobutyl (butyl) nitrite.
Why People Use
Inhalants can be purchased legally, they’re easy
to get, and they’re cheap. Therefore, young people frequently abuse
them. Volatile solvents, gases, and aerosols are often among the first
drugs that young children use. One national survey indicates about 6%
of U.S. children have tried inhalants by the time they reach fourth
Inhalants can be breathed in through the nose or the mouth in a variety of ways,
- "Sniffing" or "snorting" fumes from containers
- Spraying aerosols directly into the nose or
- "Bagging" - sniffing or inhaling fumes from
substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag
- "Huffing" from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed
in the mouth
- Inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous
Inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the
lungs into the bloodstream, quickly heading for the brain and
other organs. In minutes, the user experiences
intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by
alcohol: slurred speech, an inability to coordinate
movements, euphoria, and dizziness.
Inhalant users may also
experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions
thinking they can fly).
Because intoxication lasts only a few minutes, abusers try to prolong
the high by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several
and Long-Term Effects of Inhalant Abuse
rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication
with initial excitement,
then drowsiness, loss of
inhibition, lightheadedness, and agitation.
loss of sensation and even
judgment and functioning in work
or social situations.
damage, including severe dementia
failure/"sudden sniffing death"
Support Systems Homes provides several treatment
options for addiction to inhalants. Depending on the severity of
addiction, we provide the following treatments.
Like most abused drugs, inhalants can create a physical and
psychological dependence. Withdrawal can be painful, sometimes
A detoxification program helps you clean the drug
out of your system while in a safe environment. Our clinical staff
supports you during this first step in the recovery process. Support
Systems Homes detox staff will help you manage cravings, get through
withdrawal, and link you to a longer-term rehab program, such as
Treatment (Residential Drug Rehab)
Residential Treatment participants live in a safe, supervised setting
for an amount of time determined by you and your counselor – typically
In a structured setting, clients can focus
completely on recovering from addictive behavior. Participants receive
drug education, individual counseling, group counseling, family
counseling, introduction to community-based self-help groups such as
Narcotics Anonymous, and referrals to community resources.
You'll develop a plan to help achieve and maintain
Residential treatment also offers the chance to
form support networks with others in recovery, and to learn about
making healthy lifestyle choices (nutrition, exercise).
The Outpatient Drug Rehab programs provide flexible treatment hours,
typically several nights per week. This gives the individual an
opportunity to interact in a real world environment with peers while
benefiting from a peer-oriented, structured therapeutic program. Client
progress is assessed regularly by clinical staff who help you develop
an individualized treatment plan.
Safe, supportive living in our sober living homes
is highly recommended during the outpatient treatment process. But it’s
Graduates from Outpatient treatment programs are
welcome to attend our free Aftercare groups, which help provide ongoing
Families and Friends, Too
Because the support of family and friends is so
crucial to the recovery process, many Support Systems Homes programs
also offer a family program as part of treatment. It's important for
family members and loved ones to begin their own healing process. Our
treatment center-based family programs can help with this, as can
community-based programs such as Nar-Anon.
Lifestyle Free of Mind-Altering
Although addiction can be treated, even if an addict has been clean for
a long time and has regained health, he or she must actively maintain a
clean and sober lifestyle. Otherwise, you risk backsliding into
addiction once more.
With this in mind, Support Systems Homes offers
aftercare to treatment program graduates. Aftercare is generally a
regular, facilitated group that helps guide our clients in maintaining
Groups such as Pills Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, along with
non-12 step based programs, are designed to help addicts attain
long-term abstinence. They provide new tools and support networks to
deal with addiction and cravings.
Systems Homes for Inhalant Treatment
Freedom from inhalant
addiction is possible. Support Systems Homes' rehab centers provide a
variety of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Call us at
(800) 811-1800 to discuss treatment options.
Get information on addiction and local 12-Step meetings
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)
Information specialists are available to help you locate information
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
(Information, educational materials, treatment facility locator, and
statistics regarding addiction)