When a person is addicted to altering their experience through drugs and/or alcohol, it’s quite possible that he or she would also be open to using inhalants as a way to experience a high. It’s also possible that those who do not have access to their drug of choice (not enough money, without a prescription, out of town to access drug dealer, or not old enough to purchase alcohol) might resort to just about anything to experience a fix. For instance, they might look for solvents or inhalants around the house to a quick high.

Although this type of drug use peaked in the 1990’s, it continues to be a problem today. Inhalants are legal but they can be extremely dangerous, even leading to death with the first use. An inhalant is any substance that can be turned into a chemical vapor to be inhaled. There are many household products that can be used as inhalants, which is why this type of addiction and substance use is challenging to control.

The products that people use as inhalants include:

  • -cleaning solutions
  • -correction fluids
  • -degreasers
  • -deodorant sprays
  • -felt markers
  • -gasoline
  • -hair spray
  • -leather cleaners
  • -lighter fuel
  • -nail polish remover
  • -paint thinner
  • -room deodorizers
  • -solvents
  • -spray paints
  • -glue
  • -whipped cream aerosols


These products are frequently found in the garages and kitchens of most homes. Of course, depending upon the inhalant used, a person will experience a variety of symptoms. Types of experiences that a person might have includes:

  • -delusions
  • -distorted thinking
  • -euphoria
  • -hallucinations
  • -increased heart rate
  • -loss of consciousness
  • -loss of coordination
  • -loss of sensation
  • -slurred speech
  • -nausea
  • -vomiting


In addition to those listed, damaging effects from inhalant use include central nervous system problems, spasms in limbs, brain damage, and hearing loss. Although these effects can result in those who use inhalants regularly, they can also appear after first time use.

Inhalants provide a very short high, lasting from 15-30 minutes. For this reason, a person is likely to repeatedly use them. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are at least 18 million people have tried inhalants at least once in their lifetime. In order to stop using inhalants, a person first needs to recognize that there is a problem. Frequently, a person seeking a quick high is looking for a way to escape the problems they are facing.

Once a person recognizes that there might be a problem, appropriate treatment for addiction can begin. Because inhalants are unique, unlike other forms of substance use, treatment can be tailored to address this type of addiction. Likely, a person would undergo a form of behavioral treatment, exploring their need to use substances when certain thoughts or feelings arise. If a person is experiencing depression and/or anxiety, it’s possible that medication might be prescribed as a way to manage one’s mood and possibly avoid the need for inhalant use.

If you or someone you know is using inhalants, it could be extremely dangerous. Contact a mental health provider today for assistance.

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