A woman is high on inhalants with a toxic sign

Inhalant abuse is the act of deliberately inhaling the vapors of certain household volatile chemicals in order to achieve a high. Inhalant abuse can be highly dangerous, even with a single use. The trend is particularly scary in that it is highly popular with young people.

A study performed by Nida’s Monitoring The Future found that 13.1% of 8th-graders admitted abusing inhalants. Here we discuss this disturbing trend and recovery from inhalant abuse.

How are inhalants used?

The substances abused as inhalants are volatile substances, meaning that they vaporize at Spray paint cans used as inhalants room temperature and thus can be exposed. The variety of volatile household items used varies greatly.

This can include lighter fluid, spray paints, body sprays, whipped cream dispensers, duster, glues, and cleaning goods.

While the inhalants used are typically random, specific substances are sometimes sought out. The most common example of this is nitrous oxide.

The inhalants are used in various ways. Some may be sprayed into a bag, and the evaporating vapors are then inhaled. Some may be soaked into a rag, which is then put directly on the face and the vapors breathed in.

Filling balloons with the volatile vapors, particularly nitrous, is also a popular method. Sometimes the chemicals will even be sprayed directly into the mouth or nose of the user, further increasing the danger of inhalant abuse.

What are the effects of inhalants?

Inhalant abuse causes a quick, euphoric high to occur in the user. The effects mimic that of alcohol, including slurred speech, delirium, confusion, and lightheadedness. These effects come on almost instantly after the user has inhaled the chemical vapors.

Due to the short nature of these effects, users will typically use the inhalants repeatedly to keep the high going.

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What are the dangers of inhalants?

Inhalant abuse can cause death from even a single inhaling session. This is known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, and usually is the result of the heart beating uncontrollably leading to cardiac death syndrome.

Inhalant abuse can even lead to irreversible effects such as hearing loss, spasms, and brain damage.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/inhalants/letter-direct
  2. http://www.consumered.org/learn/inhalant-abuse/dangers-effects