Addiction to Inhalants and Solvents

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Addiction to Inhalants and Solvents

Inhaling chemicals to get high is not new; Americans have sniffed glue as far back as the late 1890s.  What IS new is the amount and variety of inhalants and solvents that are now abused. Especially frightening is the fact that this behavior is most common among adolescents – often those in junior high – ranging anywhere from age 11-15. 

It cannot be emphasized enough just how dangerous these practices are; one episode of inhaling toxic chemicals can lead to death (called SSF or sudden sniffing death) and often does.

What further complicates the issue is children this young are often unable to correctly assess dangerous activities; the younger they are, the more invincible they may feel.  Parents must talk candidly with their young children about these dangers; not doing so may be putting your child’s life at risk.

One reason these activities are typically found in the younger set is that these substances are usually readily available (household or garage staples) or can be purchased cheaply and legally.

Types of inhalants and solvents used include (but are not limited to): gasoline, glue, correction fluid, antifreeze, paint thinners, nail polish removers, aerosols of many varieties – including cooking sprays and household cleaners.

It may surprise many adults to learn there are many methods used to get the toxins into the system. Some of the ways include: “Huffing” – Cloth is soaked with chemicals and placed directly over the mouth to be inhaled.  Aerosols can be directly sprayed into the mouth.  Glue, correction fluid, nail polish remover, and other liquids are often sniffed straight from the container.  “Bagging” – Gas or vapors are inhaled from bags or balloons.  Some substances are heated, then inhaled and others are injected.

Inhalants/Solvents Cause Damage to the Central Nervous System.  

Inhaled substances get into the bloodstream very rapidly – from there, they travel quickly and directly to the brain. Once in the nervous system, they act immediately to depress the function of the entire system. 

Long-term use can result in devastating and irreversible neurological damage.

Users are known to experience excitement, dizziness, detachment from reality, and euphoria. Severe intoxication (which can happen the first, fifth, fifteenth, or fiftieth-time inhalants/ solvents are abused) can result in convulsions, coma, and death. 

Other Serious Effects:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Personality changes, including wild swings in mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Incoherent (or slurred) speech
  • Aggressive, violent behavior
  • Lack of muscle control that results in twitching and uncontrollable movements
  • Bizarre behavior

As with most drug/chemical use, stopping inhalant use will result in withdrawal symptoms. Because an individual may have used many different chemicals, it is impossible to predict specific inhalants withdrawal symptoms. Persistent use may have caused physical and mental damage, so it might be best to consult a physician regarding withdrawal.

Suddenly stopping inhalant can result in severe withdrawal symptoms: restlessness, anxiety, chills, profuse sweating, weakness, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Some addicts experience greatly increased blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate. Because of the sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms, it is advisable to consult with (or to be under the care of) a knowledgeable physician before or during the withdrawal process. 

At the first sign of danger (slowed or stopped breathing, convulsions, etc.) dial or take the person to the nearest emergency room – get help immediately.

How can you tell if someone you know is using inhalants or solvents?

Warning signs will be present in most cases, What to look for:

  • Breath and/or clothes smell like inhalants/solvents/chemicals
  • Disorientation, incoherent speech, trouble moving
  • Rash near or around nasal or mouth areas, sometimes accompanied by a runny nose
  • Personality changes; especially exhibiting increased recklessness
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Lying, evasiveness, refusal to reveal whereabouts
  • Gathering paraphernalia – paper bags, sprays, lighter fluid, gasoline, etc.

Find A Way To Recovery

Recovery from inhalants addiction is definitely possible. Though the drug is relatively new, already many thousands are recovering from this debilitating addiction.  Twelve-Step Programs (Narcotics Anonymous, etc) have proven to be a successful path to recovery for many addicts; others enroll in treatment programs. Whenever you decide to stop the madness, help is available in many forms. So now its time to find and visit the right kind of rehab centers in Wilmington NC and win the battle of addiction.

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