Inhalant Addiction Warning Signs & Dangers

The Landing provides inhalant addiction treatment for men rooted in a science-based, research-supported clinical model to ensure a healthier, more satisfying life.

Understanding Inhalants

Learn about inhalants and substance abuse

Inhalants include a great deal of common substances that are frequently abused by breathing in the vapors or fumes they produce to obtain a mind-altering high, which can include symptoms such as light-headedness, dizziness, impaired coordination, and lowered inhibitions. Hundreds of substances, such as those listed below, are part of the inhalant group:

  • Aerosols: These inhalants include spray paint, hairspray, and other substances that contain solvents and propellants.
  • Gases: Commonly abused gases include butane, propane, nitrous oxide, and chloroform.
  • Volatile solvents: Solvents such as adhesives, cleaning fluids, paint thinner, and lacquer are often inhaled as they vaporize when they reach room temperature.
  • Nitrites: Nitrates such as butyl and amyl are often inhaled to help increase sexual experiences.

Inhalant abuse is highly dangerous and can lead to the development of many negative repercussions. Fortunately, treatment options for inhalant abuse are available.


Inhalant addiction statistics

Many cases of inhalant abuse involve adolescents and teenagers, however, adults also participate in this type of substance abuse. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH), roughly 60,000 adults nationwide abuse inhalants each year. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) states that inhalant abuse is responsible for almost 10,000 emergency room visits a year within the United States.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for inhalant addiction

Substance abuse and addiction can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors, and it is often brought on by the combination of both. Experts in the field of mental health who have studied the development of addiction have connected numerous genetic and environmental factors to inhalant abuse, including:

Genetic: Family history is often the strongest predictors of whether or not an individual will develop a substance abuse problem such as inhalant use disorder. Having a parent or a sibling who battles these issues adds an increased likelihood to those within the family to develop similar struggles. Recently, scientists have recognized a number of genes and gene clusters that are tied to an individual’s potential for developing a substance use disorder such as inhalant use disorder.

Environmental: Those who have a history of abuse and/or neglect are often predisposed to abusing inhalants and do so widely because of their availability. Other environmental factors for inhalant abuse can include stress, poverty, and hanging out with others who abuse drugs like inhalants.

Risk Factors:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Living in poverty
  • Prior substance abuse
  • Family history of substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental illness
  • Early exposure to substance abuse
  • Personal history of abuse and/or neglect
  • Personal history of trauma

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of inhalant addiction

With hundreds of substances available that can be inhaled, the signs and symptoms that might indicate use can vary greatly in terms of duration, severity, and appearance. However, below are some of the most common signs that an individual might exhibit if he is battling an inhalant abuse problem:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Having large amounts of glue, aerosols, paint, or other inhalants in one’s possession
  • Swaying and/or stumbling
  • Lying about one’s whereabouts and activities
  • Slurred speech
  • Engaging in risky, dangerous behaviors
  • Belligerence

Physical symptoms:

  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Emitting a chemical or gas-like odor
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Sores near the mouth

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Poor judgment
  • Impaired coordination
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Excitability and restlessness
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest in activities and issues that were previously important
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Unprovoked agitation or anger


Effects of inhalant addiction

The destruction that can come from inhalant abuse can vary based on the type of inhalant that is being abused and the amount that is being consumed. Below are some of the common effects that have been connected to the abuse of inhalants:

  • Ulcers
  • Anemia
  • Damage to the brain, kidneys, and liver
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Blindness
  • Hearing loss

Co-Occurring Disorders

Inhalant addiction and co-occurring disorders

Many individuals who battle inhalant abuse are also struggling with other mental health conditions, such as the disorders listed below:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Major depressive disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of inhalant withdrawal & overdose

Effects of inhalant withdrawal: Those who have been partaking in long-term inhalant abuse and then stop suddenly or dramatically reduce the amount they are taking can trigger the onset of a painful period of withdrawal. Some symptoms of this can include:

  • Powerful headaches
  • Tremors and convulsions
  • Intense cravings
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Excessive sweating

Effects of inhalant overdose: Abusing inhalants is always linked to the risk of overdose, which can be deadly. Anyone who shows the following symptoms after abusing inhalants should obtain immediate medical attention:

  • Severe trouble breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bleeding from the nose

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My addiction to inhalants got to the point where I would constantly find more toxic things to inhale. At a certain point, I feared for my life and was able to achieve sobriety at The Landing.

– Anonymous Client
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