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Tuesday, April 02 2019
What Parents of Teens Need To Know About Inhalant Abuse

In my years of selling drug tests, I have spoken to more parents that have lost children to huffing than to any other type of drug death.  It is especially sad since the kids that will use inhalants are often especially young and lack information about how dangerous huffing really is. These substances are readily available to them when others might not be. We called it “bagging” back in the 70’s. It is a ridiculous thing to do, and not a pleasant high- and is often caused purely from peer pressure. Another driving factor here is less chance of being caught while intoxicated because the effects of inhalants are so brief. The ease of hiding inhalant abuse is another reason that these substances are so commonly abused by teenagers.

As with all things, knowledge is power. Learn about inhalants and know the signs of inhalant use.

 Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. Although other abused substances can be inhaled, the term "inhalants" is used to describe a variety of substances whose main common characteristic is that they are rarely, if ever, taken by any route other than inhalation. This definition encompasses a broad range of chemicals that may have different pharmacological effects and are found in hundreds of different products. They are found in a multitude of inexpensive, easily available products used for common household and industrial purposes. These include paint thinners and removers, dry-cleaning fluids, degreasers, gasoline, glues, correction fluids, and felt-tip markers. Aerosols are sprays that contain propellants and solvents. They include spray paints, deodorant and hair sprays, vegetable oil sprays for cooking, and fabric protector sprays. Gases include medical anesthetics as well as gases used in household or commercial products. Generally, inhalant abusers will abuse any available substance. Young teenagers seem to especially abuse Dust-Off- maybe because of easy availability.

 Statistics show that huffing is most common among children aged 12 to 17 and peaks among 14-year olds. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Nearly all inhalants (except nitrites) produce a "high" by slowing down brain activity. Nitrites, in contrast, expand and relax blood vessels.

Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. Over the long term, the chemicals can cause serious problems. Depending on the type of inhalant and the specific product being abused, these side effects may not be permanent and may be reversed by discontinuing the abuse of inhalants. In some cases, however, these effects may be permanent. Some examples of permanent damage caused by inhalant use include damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain, including permanent death of brain cells resulting in memory loss and difficulty obtaining new knowledge. The side effects are especially dangerous in individuals under the age of 25, because the brain does not fully develop until that time. In some cases, the brain may never fully develop, which is referred to as Delayed Behavioral Development. Repeated inhalant abuse can have serious consequences on a person’s long-term physical and mental health. These effects are quite serious and can be life-threatening because the chemicals in inhalants can build up in the fatty tissue of major organs.

Inhalant abuse usually creates effects that mirror alcohol intoxication, but may also have psychoactive effects such slurred speech, increased gregariousness, diminished motor skills, dizziness and hallucinations.Inhalant abuse can be hard to detect because its effects are so short-lived. Some common signs of inhalant abuse include:

  • Red eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Unusual smelling breath
  • Paint or stains on clothing or face
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drunk appearance
  • Anxiety

The short-lived effects of inhalants may lead people to incorrectly assume that these substances aren’t that dangerous. Many individuals also feel inhalants aren’t that dangerous because they are not prescribed and are found around the house. However, inhalants are actually just as dangerous as many hard drugs, and in many cases more dangerous. Inhalants can cause heart failure and respiratory distress, leading to a fatal overdose even with the first use.

Posted by: Kim AT 12:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email