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Inhalants are most commonly abused by teens and preteens to get a dangerous high through inhaling or “huffing” hazardous chemicals contained in household items such as model glue, nail polish remover, spray paint, hair spray and paint thinner.  These items are commonly found throughout most households and are very easy for children to access. This article contains information about the numerous items used as inhalants, how inhalants can effect abusers, and the recovery options for inhalant rehabilitation and treatment.

Inhalant Facts and Figures

  • Inhalants are household products inhaled or sniffed by children to get high.
  • Commonly used products are model airplane glue, cleaning fluids, spray paint, nail polish remover, correction fluid, hair spray, freon.
  • Products are snorted or sniffed, bagged (fumes inhaled from a bag), or huffed (rag soaked with inhalant in the mouth).
  • Short-term effects are a loss of consciousness, intoxication, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, nosebleeds, numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, hearing loss. Long-term inhalant abusers report strong desires to use again after periods of abstinence.
  • Long-term effects include hearing loss, limb spasms, a decrease in heart and respiratory rates, blood oxygen depletion, depression, lack of coordination, heart failure, death.
  • Inhalant abuse has initial effects similar to alcohol intoxication such as excitement, lack of inhibition, disorientation, agitation, and physical symptoms like an increase in heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously high and irregular rhythms. Inhalants can induce heart failure.
  • Physical signs of inhalant use are red or a runny nose, slurred or disoriented speech, unusual breath odor, chemical odor on clothing, drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance, spots, and sores around the mouth.
  • In 2005, approximately 22.7 million people aged 12 and over reported abusing inhalants at least once in the past year.
  • Abusers range mainly in age from 12-17 years.
  • Over 877,000 tried inhalants for the first time in 2005. This number was up 29% from the 630,000 in 1999.
  • Inhalant abuse has been reported in approximately 9.4% of the population aged 12 and over.
  • Inhalants are the 4th most abused drug in the US among 8th, 10th and 12th graders.
  • By 8th grade, nearly one in three students have tried inhalants, and by 12th grade, over half have tried inhalants based on a 2006 NSDUH survey.