Inhalants: Drugs Found In Common Household Items

What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are a group of chemicals commonly found in many household objects which are breathed in to produce drug-like effects. Normally these products are used as cleaning items, for art projects, in medical procedures, or for cooking, but when inhaled they prove to be very dangerous. In order to prevent the serious consequences that can arise from inhalant use, seek drug treatment today. Street names of inhalants include poppers, hardware, whippets, poor man’s pot, and snappers.

These drugs are most popular among middle-school aged children and teens. This may be because of the cheap cost and easy accessibility of these products. Inhalant use has been known to lead to the abuse of more serious drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. In most cases of inhalant use, symptoms are similar to those experienced when intoxicated with alcohol.

Just as it is dangerous to consume alcohol during pregnancy, inhalant use during pregnancy may be especially dangerous as well. Harmful effects that may take place in the child of a mother who uses drugs (like inhalants) during pregnancy may include a small birth weight, brain damage, and changes in skeletal structure.

Types of Inhalants

Inhalants can be categorized into four main groups. These four groups are:

  1. Aerosols – These common household objects are contained in spray bottles. Types of aerosols include hair spray, computer cleaning products, sprays for vegetable oil, and spray paint.
  2. Gases – Types of gases may be found around the house or used in medical facilities. Examples of gases include nitrous oxide, gases from the refrigerator, propane tank gases, chloroform, and whipped cream bottles.
  3. Nitrites – These products are often used in cleaning. Types of nitrates include leather cleaner, and scents used to air out a room. Butyl, amyl, and cyclohexyl are all nitrites.
  4. Volatile Solvents – Volatile solvents are products commonly used in businesses (especially art facilities) and possibly in the home. Examples include gasoline, liquid in a felt-tipped marker, glue, paint thinner, and degreasers.

Inappropriate use of any of these products can cause harmful consequences. It may be crucial to seek out detoxification and drug treatment before long-term effects or even death result.

Signs/Symptoms of Inhalants

Symptoms associated with inhalant use may include:

  • Change in heart rate
  • Sneezing
  • Hallucinations
  • No desire to eat
  • Drowsiness
  • Coughing
  • Euphoria
  • Poor decision-making
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Relaxation
  • Inability to speak clearly
  • Bloody nose
  • Headache
  • Poor coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness

Highly concentrated inhalant use or repeated breathing in of inhalants may result in death, unconsciousness, or destructive behavior. These consequences may occur in someone who is using inhalants for the first time or in an experienced user of these drugs.

Unfortunately for those who abuse inhalants, drug treatment is often far more complicated and sometimes not even available at drug and alcohol rehab centers. This may be partially due to the fact that neurological damage is frequently present and abuse in the home is regularly an issue. Also, detoxification periods for inhalant addiction tend to last for a long period of time, typically a month or longer. If a drug treatment facility is effective in providing recovery, it must be very carefully monitored and tends to include long time periods for treatment.


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