What Is Inhalant Abuse?
Also called huffing, inhalant abuse is the act of breathing in chemical vapors to get a “high” feeling. There are all sorts of products that people abuse, ranging from household cleaners to room deodorizers. Inhalant abuse can be a little challenging to identify because it does not present itself like many other types of substance abuse. Parents need to be aware of the signs of inhalant abuse, though, so that they can address the issue before it becomes a chronic problem.
Common Signs of Recent Inhalant Abuse
Inhalant intoxication can be challenging to spot because it only lasts a short time. People who are currently intoxicated on inhalants tend to exhibit these behavioral inhalant abuse symptoms:
- Poor judgment
- Inhibition loss
Depending on the inhalant used, you may also notice that the person has some physical symptoms. These usually occur because their body is reacting negatively to the foreign substance. In the hours after inhaling something, a person may have reddened eyes, watery eyes or a runny nose. They may also complain of a sore throat and have reddened or inflamed skin around the nose or mouth.
Behavior of Inhalant Abuse
Over time, more concerning signs of inhalant abuse can begin to develop. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains that people can develop a dependence on inhalants. This means their brains become rewired to feel like they need inhalants to function normally. Those who abuse inhalants may become apathetic and lose interest in other activities. You may find that they lose friendships, have lowered grades, dismiss former hobbies, or no longer express enthusiasm.
Those who are dependent on inhalants will exhibit classic drug-seeking behaviors. Loved ones may notice a sudden compulsion to repeatedly purchase keyboard cleaner, felt-tip markers, glue, spray deodorant, paint, whipped cream, room deodorizers, paint thinner, or other common household items. Inhalant abusers may get irritable and have outbursts when they do not have access to their preferred inhalants. Some people trapped in the cycle of inhalant abuse may steal money, shoplift, or display other problematic behaviors while trying to get access to inhalants. Inhalant abuse can require extensive behavioral treatment programs to overcome.
Abusing inhalants too often can cause some major health problems. Many people see inhalants as harmless because they are not usually categorized with “hard drugs.” However, inhalants are very dangerous because they are not meant to be ingested in the human body. Depending on the substance, there are severe physiological effects linked to long-term inhalant abuse. Long-term effects are particularly dangerous in those who abuse inhalants before the age of 25 since the brain is not yet fully developed. Years after individuals undergo substance abuse treatment, they may still suffer health problems.
Inhalant abuse may cause permanent damage to the:
- Lung cells
These issues happen because chemicals like toluene can degrade nerve cells, damage the lining of the lungs, or build up to toxic levels in the liver and kidneys. This can lead to problems, such as:
- Trouble breathing
- Memory loss
- Learning difficulties
Furthermore, doctors report that inhalant abuse can cause symptoms mistaken for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis.
Addressing the Signs
Being able to recognize inhalant abuse symptoms is the first step in addressing the problem. If you have noticed the symptoms of inhalant abuse in you or a loved one’s life, it is important to seek help. At Venture Academy, we have substance abuse specialists who focus on helping troubled teens at multiple convenient locations. Feel free to reach out to us and learn more about how our services can help you and your family. Get started on your path to healing by giving us a call at 855.281.5813.