Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

An Inhalant is the term given to some common household products that people use as a means of achieving a feeling of euphoria.  Some of the popular inhalants that are used for this purpose include:

  • Model Glue
  • Nail polish remover
  • Gasoline
  • Spray paint
  • Cooking spray
  • Liquid paper or Wite-Out
  • Cleaning fluids

These inhalants are dangerous with just normal exposure due to the poisonous chemicals that make them up, such as: butane, propane, fluorocarbons, ethyl chloride, acetone and nitrous oxide; so why would anyone want to purposely expose themselves to these harmful toxins just for a “thrill ride?”

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Signs and Symptoms Inhalant Abuse

The term for it is called “huffing” which is the act of inhaling the fumes these poisonous chemicals put off.  The way an abuser attempts to achieve the greatest effect from huffing is to pour the chemicals into a plastic bag, or soak a rag in the chemicals; then they place the soaked rag near their nose and mouth.  Sadly, many young people have succumbed to an early death by “huffing” these inhalants.

Some of the short-term effects from “huffing” are:

  • Slurred speech;
  • Difficulty with coordination;
  • Cognitive distortion;
  • Disorientation and confusion;
  • Dizziness;
  • Light-headedness;
  • Nausea

The effects of huffing are very short term, the “high” an abuser feels last a mere few seconds and is complete dissipated within a few minutes.  However, there are cases in which severe side effects have occurred with inhalant abusers.  These side effects include:

  • Brain damage
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures and spasms
  • Vision and hearing damage

Rehab and Treatment for Inhalant Abuse

The use of inhalants for internal use has been proven to be very dangerous in research done with animals and humans, proving that inhalant abuse is extremely lethal.  The persistent abuse of inhalants can result in brain and nervous system damage.  Some of the damage done to the nervous system is similar to the effects of certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.  If an abuser continues to abuse inhalants they are putting their heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys at severe risk of permanent damage.  Extended abuse of inhalants is known to negatively affect mental cognition, movement, eyesight and hearing.  The abuse of such toxic chemicals as butane, propane, aerosols, can result in “sudden sniffing death”—this can occur in an otherwise healthy young person after even their first sniffing session.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of inhalant abuse, it is imperative that treatment starts right away.  The treatment for an inhalant addict is dependent on the age, gender and length of exposure the person has been inhaling the chemicals,  if there are other drugs involved, and if the addict has any of the co-occurring disorders present.

Treatment for a young inhalant abuser may be as an outpatient, in a residential facility, or even at a hospital.  For abuser who are suffering any co-occurring disorders, hospitalization if recommended in order to get treatment for these health issues.  Once the abuser completes the required treatment there are further therapies that it is recommended they participate in to ensure a complete recovery process.  These therapies and techniques include:

  • Individual, group and family therapy;
  • 12-step education;
  • Instruction on relapse prevention;
  • Cognitive and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Biofeedback and Neuro feedback
  • Recreational therapy

Once the inhalant abuser has completed the required treatment and therapies and become drug-free it is essential for them to have a strong support system to ensure they do not relapse and go back to abusing these toxic and dangerous chemicals.


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