Inhalants are household substances that produce vapors that can be inhaled in order to produce a high 1. There are 4 categories of inhalants which include 2:
- Solvents: These are liquids that are converted to vapor at room temperature such as gasoline, glue, markers, and paint thinners
- Aerosols: These include spray cans such as paint, hair spray, oil sprays, and fabric sprays.
- Gases: These are either used in a medical setting or are contained in household products. Examples include nitrous oxide, ether, chloroform, propane tanks, and butane lighters.
- Nitrites: These are typically used to enhance sexual activity. Examples include isobutyl nitrite and cyclohexyl nitrite. They are often referred to as “snappers” or “poppers.”
Abusing inhalants even once can lead to serious long-term consequences including death. This is often a result of “sudden sniffing death syndrome,” which in many cases is caused by fatal cardiac arrhythmias 3. Long-term inhalant abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic condition characterized by cravings, compulsive use despite negative consequences, and a significant impairment in functioning.
In this article you will learn more about:
- Inhalant addiction treatment.
- Cost of inhalant addiction treatment.
- Paying for recovery programs.
- Signs and symptoms of inhalant addiction.
- Long-term effects of inhalant use.
- Finding treatment.
Inhalant Addiction Treatment
Many of the solvents, aerosols, and gas inhalants depress the central nervous system (CNS) and some may secondarily activate the reward system in the brain by releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation 4. Conversely, nitrites dilate the blood vessels and increase sexual pleasure—a rewarding effect in and of itself 4.
Users can abuse inhalants in a variety of ways, such as 5:
- Sniffing fumes from containers.
- Spraying directly into the mouth or nose.
- Soaking a rag or piece of clothing and inhaling the fumes.
- Placing the solvent or gas in a balloon or bag and sniffing the fumes.
People may abuse inhalants for the following desirable effects 3,6,7:
- Giddiness or excitation.
- Loss of inhibition.
It is never too late to seek help and begin on the path to recovery.
Inhalant addiction is a treatable condition and it is never too late to seek help and begin on the path to recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), inhalant use disorder can be complicated by a number of factors and is best approached in the following way 3:
- Due to the many medical complications associated with inhalant abuse, users should be administered a detailed physical exam and be provided with medical treatment for any conditions that may have been caused by or exacerbated by inhalant abuse.
- Since inhalants can remain in the body for weeks, detox may take longer than other substances (possibly as long as a month).
- Due to the loss in attention and concentration, initial therapy sessions should begin at approximately 15-20 minutes in length.
- Family involvement is key for young inhalant abusers. Parents may attend parenting or bonding skills classes.
- Inhalants are often abused in groups, particularly among teens, so there should be a focus on finding new peer groups and alternative, healthy recreational activities.
- Aftercare planning, which may involve several community resources, is important for inhalant users as relapse is common amongst this group.
The treatment options available to you or your loved one when recovering from inhalant addiction include:
- Detox: Detox facilities manage the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with acute inhalant withdrawal syndrome. Therapy will be limited as the focus is medical supervision of withdrawal symptoms. Detox is not a replacement for comprehensive substance abuse treatment as it doesn’t address the underlying issues associated with addiction.
- Inpatient: Residential treatment facilities provide around-the-clock medical and psychiatric care, individual therapy, group counseling, and oftentimes family therapy. Depending on the program’s philosophy, it may integrate 12-step meetings or holistic approaches.
- Outpatient: This includes Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and standard outpatient programs, all of which allow you to live at home while receiving substance abuse treatment. PHP is a full day group therapy that will provide psychiatric medications, if applicable. IOP is a half-day program that will not provide medications. Less intensive outpatient programs meet 1-2 times per week for a couple hours each meeting.
- Luxury: These inpatient facilities have a focus on comfort and luxurious amenities. Examples include gourmet meals, spa treatment, massage therapy, swimming pools, and exercise facilities.
- Executive: These inpatient programs cater to executives who value privacy when receiving addiction treatment and wish to continue working while recovering.
- Holistic: These residential programs combine traditional interventions, such as behavioral therapy, with alternative approaches, such as mindfulness and meditation, yoga, equine therapy, music and art therapy, and acupuncture.
- 12–step programs: 12-step programs are fellowship programs that are free to join. The only requirement is that you must want to quit using drugs. Many people find the supportive environment to be beneficial throughout the recovery process.
Cost of Inhalant Addiction Treatment
The cost of treatment is dependent upon various factors including:
- The state in which you live.
- The level of insurance you currently have.
- The type of treatment you choose.
- The amenities provided at your chosen facility.
- Whether you need to travel to get to treatment.
If you have insurance, call your insurance company to learn more about the details of your coverage.
Paying for Treatment
If you do not have insurance, don’t be discouraged. There are several financing options available to you. Some of these options include:
- Crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe. These sites allow you to set up a profile describing your cause and the reason why you need funding.
- Charity or scholarship through the treatment facility. Many facilities reserve a spot or two for people who are unable to pay for treatment, however, they usually require items such as recent pay stubs in order to prove financial status.
- Payment plan through the recovery center. Speak with the financial personnel at the facility you are interested in and ask about making a reasonable down payment with a term of monthly payments.
- Savings. While dipping into savings for treatment may not be something that you are willing to do, try to remember that inhalants are extremely dangerous and can be fatal. It will be worth every penny you spend on getting the help you or a loved one needs.
- Credit cards or personal loans. Speak with your financial institution to see about getting a personal loan or increasing your credit limit in order to pay for treatment.
Treatment programs are not cheap, which can feel overwhelming for those dealing with inhalant abuse or addiction, but remember that nothing is more important than your health and sobriety.
Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Addiction
These signs can vary greatly; some are behavioral while others are psychological or physical. There are many signs and symptoms associated with inhalant addiction. These signs can vary greatly; some are behavioral while others are psychological or physical.
Some common behavioral signs of inhalant use disorder include 7:
- Using more inhalants than originally intended.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time using inhalants and recovering from their effects.
- Continuing to use inhalants despite physical and psychological consequences.
- Failing to quit using inhalants despite efforts to do so.
- Continuing to use inhalants in spite of interpersonal or social complications.
- Using inhalants in dangerous situations, such as while driving.
- Experiencing problems at school or work as a result of inhalant use.
- Exhibiting secretive behaviors surrounding inhalant use.
- Becoming defensive when approached about inhalant use.
You may be able to recognize some physical and psychological signs of intoxication in those who abuse inhalants. Some of these signs may include 3,6,7,8:
- Belligerence or violent behavior.
- Impaired judgment and loss of self-control.
- Slurred speech.
- Blurred or double vision.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Depressed reflexes.
- Lack of coordination.
- Delirium or hallucinations.
- Stupor or coma.
- Poor diet or nutrition.
- Lack of hygiene or attention to appearance.
- Paint, glue, or other chemical stains on clothing or skin of the face and hands.
- An odor of chemicals on the person’s breath or clothes.
- Dryness or redness around the mouth and nose.
Long-term Effects of Inhalant Addiction
Addiction is a progressive condition that tends to worsen over time if untreated. A person who uses inhalants for an extended period of time runs the risk of experiencing various psychological and physical complications, some of which may not be reversible 3.
Some potential long-term effects of inhalant abuse and addiction include 3,7,9:
- Poor memory.
- Inability to focus.
- Impaired learning skills.
- Lowered immunities
- Vision and hearing loss.
- Brain damage due to lack of oxygen to the brain during use.
- Increased risk of HIV, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), due to disinhibition.
- Respiratory problems, such as bronchitis and asthma.
- Depression and/or anxiety.
- Damage to liver, kidney, heart, lungs, and nerves.
- Heart, liver, and kidney failure.
- Bone marrow damage that can increase the chance of getting leukemia.
In addition to the long-term psychological and physical effects listed above, abusing inhalants increases the likelihood that a person will experience life complications, such as:
- Financial problems.
- Child neglect.
- Divorce or failed relationships.
- Dramatic decrease in work or school performance.
- Polydrug abuse and subsequent consequences.
Find Treatment for Inhalant Addiction
Inhalant addiction can have debilitating consequences in a user’s life. If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction to inhalants, help is available. Contact one of our representatives today at 1-888-439-3435 to begin your road to recovery.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Letter from the Director.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Inhalants.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2003). Inhalants. Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory: Breaking News for the Treatment Field, 3(1), 1-4.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). How do inhalants produce their effects?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). How are inhalants used?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). What are the short-and long-term effects of inhalant use?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). How can inhalant abuse be recognized?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). What are the other medical consequences of inhalant abuse?
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