One class of drugs we wanted to discuss in this article is referred to generally as “inhalants.” The drugs in this category often get lumped together because they’re taken in the same way – but different inhalants can have different effects.
Types of Inhalants:
Liquids: There are several types of liquids that can vaporize at room temperature. The vapor of these liquids are inhaled through “huffing.” Hundreds of household liquids can be huffed, such as paint thinner, degreaser, glue, gasoline, correctional fluid, and felt-tipped marker fluid.
Sprays: Sprays like cooking spray, vegetable oil, deodorant, hair spray, and spray paint are all aerosol liquids that can be inhaled for a high.
Gases: Medical anesthetics, butane lighters, propane tanks, refrigerants, and (most famously) whipped cream cans all have inhalant gases within them.
Nitrites: A nitrite is a chemical compound found in food preservatives, used for curing meat, room deodorizers, and video head cleaners. When used as an inhalant, nitrites act directly on the central nervous system. They are mainly used as a sexual enhancer – particularly by men.
Since inhalants are often simple household chemicals, it’s impossible to list every single thing that a person could inhale to attain a high. There are street names connected to inhalants or “huffing” such as: Whippits, Shoot the Breeze, Nitrous, Laughing Gas, Huff, Heart-on, Poppers, Rush, Air Blast, Duster, Snappers, Highball, Hippie Crack, Poor Man’s Pot, Snotballs, Whiteout, and more.
Why Would Anyone Engage In Inhalant Abuse?
Generally, when one looks at whipped cream or a bottle of glue, one doesn’t consider inhaling the fumes contained within the bottle to see if it will get them high. Most people buy whipped cream to use on pies. Most people buy glue to use in craft or home improvement projects. So, why would someone abuse inhalants? To discover this, we must take a look at past uses of inhalants.
History of Inhalants
The practice of inhaling or “huffing” in order to alter a state of consciousness dates back to ancient Egypt and Babylon. This was usually done as part of a fortune-telling enterprise or religious experience. However, in the late 1700s, British scientist Sir Humphry Davy popularized nitrous oxide as “laughing gas” and held parties using the drug. Later on – in the mid-1800s, nitrous oxide was utilized in medicine as an anesthetic.
Abusing gases was not as popular during the mid to late 1800s as they were in the early 1900s during Prohibition. Because drinking alcohol was illegal, people started using Ether to get high.
The 1900s saw heavy use of inhalants like gasoline, ether, nitrous oxide, acetone, and others in both industry and among drug users.
Inhalant abuse isn’t just a problem in the United States. Parts of Africa, Mexico, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and other places worldwide have seen heavy use of inhalants.
Other effects of inhalants include:
- Slurred speech, dizziness, and lack of coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
- Permanent memory loss
- Hearing loss
- Bone marrow damage
- Heart attacks which can lead to death
- Serious heart, liver, kidney, lung, and brain damage
- Death by suffocation
Inhalants can cause terrible long-term damage. For example, sniffing glue or paint thinner can cause kidney problems. Sniffing solvents like toluene, causes liver damage. Most of these chemicals are extremely harsh and are not meant for human consumption. Sniffing them can lead to severe lung damage caused by the chemical burning the lungs, which can cause death by suffocation.
Inhalants are often considered a gateway drug, but they are also addictive.
If you are or someone you know is addicted to inhalants, contact us or call us today.
We have an effective, drug-free program that can rid a person of inhalant addiction, and help them regain a drug-free life.