Many people don’t think that common chemicals found in household products can be addictive, but the truth is that some inhalants are quite addictive and dangerous. An inhalant is a chemical vapor that can cause psychoactive effects when inhaled.

Someone who inhales such vapors will have one or more of the following effects:

  • A sense of euphoria
  • Slurred speech
  • Dazed
  • Dizziness
  • A temporary hallucinatory state

There are over 1,000 household products that are considered inhalants. Users resort to several ways of ingesting the chemicals, including sniffing, snorting, bagging, or huffing.  Inhalants include four various categories, including:

  • Solvents – glue, paint thinners, gasoline, markers
  • Aerosols – spray cans like hair spray, paint, oil sprays
  • Gases – found in household products or medical facilities, including butane lighters, nitrous oxide, propane tanks, ether
  • Nitrites – oftentimes used to increase sexual drive, includes cyclohexyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite (poppers, snappers)

Are Inhalants Addictive?

Inhalants are certainly addictive.  Users report that they continue to sniff the substances over and over because they enjoy the feeling of being high.  Because the “high” only lasts maybe 15 to 20 seconds, they tend to continue to use repeatedly despite the dangers to the body and brain. However, many users, especially teenagers, aren’t even aware of the dangers of huffing.  They think that a little sniffing isn’t a big deal, thinking they’ll be alright. However, medical experts state that inhalants can cause damage to many organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and more. Inhalants are known to depress the central nervous system, but if too much inhaling is done, the user runs the risk of overdosing.

In fact, some of the chemicals can cause seizures, coma, and death within minutes because they are highly concentrated. The number of chemicals hitting the body all at once, can stop the heart within a minute or two, causing sudden sniffing death.

What Are Inhalant Withdrawal Symptoms?

Though addiction to inhalants isn’t very common, ongoing use can certainly cause someone to become dependent on the substance.  Teenagers have been known to use inhalants because they’re so easy to get ahold of. They can easily find inhalants at home and buy them at most stores. Even though they may know the potential dangers of inhaling the substance, they do it anyway, sometimes causing them to slack when it comes to their everyday responsibilities at home and school.

When a person tries to stop using the inhalant, the following withdrawal symptoms may occur:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Shaking
  • Increased sweating
  • No appetite
  • Sleep disruption
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations

What Are the Stages of Inhalant Withdrawal Timeline?

The time frame for getting through the withdrawal process can vary from person to person.  It will most likely take longer for those who are heavy users over light users. Regardless of the pace at which one gets through the withdrawal timeline, medical monitoring is always recommended, as some symptoms can be quite uncomfortable and/or dangerous. Factors that can affect the timeline are:

  • The health of the individual
  • Type or types of inhalants used
  • How long they’ve been huffing
  • Strength of the inhalants
  • How determined they are to get through the withdrawal process
  • Support system
  • Whether or not other drugs are being abused
  • Whether or not any mental health conditions exist

Inhalant Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-2

Withdrawal symptoms may begin to occur within 28 hours of the last use.  Early symptoms include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, sweating, insomnia, and hand tremors. In severe cases, where chronic, severe addiction occurred, psychosis can occur. It’s essential to have medical supervision for the first couple of days of detoxing.

Days 3-7

For the rest of week one, the person should start to feel better each day as the body rids itself of the toxins associated with inhalants.  The physical symptoms should begin to decrease, but some psychological symptoms may linger, such as depression and anxiety.

After Week 1

Psychological symptoms may linger on for another week or two, such as anxiety, depression, and perhaps trouble sleeping.

For heavy users, some symptoms can linger for weeks or months as the body needs the time to adjust and heal.

Why Should I Detox?

Detoxing is the first step toward overcoming any addiction.  Detoxing from inhalants is important to give the body time to rid itself of the harmful chemicals inhaled.  Health experts recommend those that who are addicted to inhalants seek medical help when detoxing, rather than trying to quit at home alone. A full medical exam should be performed because inhalants can cause damage to various organs and systems of the body.  In addition, when stopping the use of a drug abruptly, severe withdrawal symptoms can occur, which is why a medical detox with physicians is always recommended.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Detoxing from a drug is the first step toward recovery, as the focus during the detox phase is managing the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Detox ready is the mind for long-term recovery. It does not address the underlying issues that may have caused the addiction in the first place.

Therefore, in addition to detoxing, continued treatment is recommended in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. If the person is under 18, family involvement is recommended, with parents able to attend treatment with the teen.

Inpatient Treatment

This type of residential treatment allows an individual to live at the facility for a period of time while receiving treatment for inhalant addiction. There is around-the-clock care from physicians and therapists, as well as the opportunity to receive individual and group counseling and attend support groups. Patients usually stay at an inpatient treatment center for anywhere from 30 to 90 days depending on their treatment needs. However, extended stays can be arranged if need be.

Outpatient Treatment

This type of treatment allows individuals to live at home and visit the facility for treatment sessions.  There are various types of outpatient treatment, including Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and regular outpatient programs. One can find outpatient options at addiction treatment centers, doctors’ offices, and mental health facilities. Often patients will commit to a certain number of sessions per week and decrease the number of sessions as they progress in therapy.

Regardless of what type of inhalant addiction treatment one chooses, professionals will create a comprehensive treatment plan that can help them stay off the inhalants, contend with any underlying issues like anxiety or depression, and learn valuable life skills to face the future.

Start Your Journey To Recovery Today

If you or a loved one is inhaling substances to get high, detox and follow-up treatment at either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center are essential for safety and freedom. We are here, and we care.

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