Inhalant Dependence

It is not uncommon for someone to use an inhaler as medication for breathing conditions, such as asthma. Those who have asthma know what it is like to use an inhaler so that they may have easier time breathing. It is dangerous, however, to inhale substances that are not for medical use, such as glue, gasoline or more risky drugs. Many people may think that inhaling such substances is harmless, but there are many consequences and complications that may arise.

People who have an inhalant dependence continue to use inhalants even though they are aware of the problems that are caused by or made worse by the use of the substance. The inhalants are a class of drugs that include a wide range of chemicals that are found in hundreds of different products. Most inhalants are readily available to the general population. Chemicals that are inhaled include liquids that vaporize at room temperature and aerosols (i.e. glue, gasoline, paint thinner, hair spray, nail polish, lighter fluid, and paint thinner). Inhalants can be sniffed directly from the container by inhaling fumes from a bag or by inhaling the substance from a cloth soaked in it.

Signs of Inhalant Dependence

  • Building a tolerance to the substance
  • Inability to stop using even if desired to
  • Loss of control: repeatedly using the substance longer than planned
  • If you give up social activities or sports to use the substance
  • Using the substance even if the person is developing psychological or physical problems

Causes of Dependence

Inhalants take effect very quickly because they get into the bloodstream rapidly through the lungs. The “high” from inhalants is usually brief so users will often take inhalants repeatedly over the course of several hours. Dependence also occurs when the user becomes addicted to this “high” and when their tolerance builds up. Tolerance is usually an indicator that someone is physically dependent.

Complications and Long Term Effects of Inhalant Dependence

There are many medical problems that result from inhalant dependence. Destruction of cells can cause deafness, memory impairment, hallucinations, heart failure, kidney and liver damage, and the damage of nerves and skin.

Help and Treatment

It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is dependent on inhalants. Inhalants can negatively impact your life and harm your body. There are many treatment programs available that will allow you to break free from being dependent. Finding a center that specializes in inhalant addiction is the best option. The majority of inhalant abusers are between the ages of 12 and 17, therefore many specialized treatment centers are designed to treat adolescents. Contact your nearest treatment center for more details.

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