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Drugs of Abuse

Drug Type: Inhalants

Inhalants (household products, cleaners, solvents, aerosols, paints, nitrates containing chemicals that are inhaled to get "high") Inhalants are stimulants and in some cases have hallucinogenic effects.

Other Names: Huffing, sniffing. Sniffers refers to inhalant abusers.

What it looks like: Examples of products that are inhaled:

Glue, paint, paint thinner, correction fluid, nail polish, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, hair spray, cooking spray, lighter fluid, freon, gasoline, deodorants, Scotchgard fabric protector, laughing gas, whipped cream dispenser, chloroform, ether, amyl nitrates, aerosol cans, nitrous oxides.

How it is used:

  • Sniffed
  • Inhaled through the mouth
  • Often a cloth soaked with chemicals is placed in a bag to trap the fumes. Fumes are inhaled through a small opening in the bag

Effect of the drug: Effects are felt immediately and can last for hours

  • Exhilaration or euphoria
  • Distortion of sensory perception
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Can be hallucinogenic

Negative Effects/Overdose Effects:

  • Nausea/vomiting/headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Chemical-induced stupor
  • Loss of control
  • Memory loss
  • Mood changes
  • Aggressive/violent behavior
  • Suffocation
  • Lung Damage/Brain Damage/Kidney Damage
  • Heart attack
  • Coma

What to look for:

  • Appearance of being drunk without the odor of alcohol
  • Lack of muscular control (staggering)
  • Slurred speech
  • Excessive runny nose/watery eyes/nosebleeds
  • Odor of chemicals on the person or in room
  • Rash/inflammation of the nose
  • Paint on mouth/hands
  • Bad breath
  • Drowsiness/unconsciousness

Paraphernalia Associated with Drug Use:

  • Discarded cans/canisters
  • Aerosol containers that do not function properly
  • Restaurant style whipped cream dispenser-looks like covered pitcher with an attachment at the top for a small, missile shaped canister called a "whippet". Used to inhale nitrous oxide. Very popular. These are being purchased at restaurant supply stores or stolen from restaurants.
  • Tanks of nitrous oxide or helium gas (usually indicates theft/burglary)
  • Chemical soaked rags, possibly in plastic or paper bags.
  • Balloons (fumes or gases are inhaled directly from the balloon)

Potential for Abuse:Inhalants, being cheap and readily available, are increasingly popular among middle school and high school students. One study estimates that 19% of 8th graders have used inhalants at least once. (Source: Monitoring the Future, 1999) However, inhalants are the only drug abused by more younger teens than older ones, although this may be because as teens get older they have greater access to and move on to other drugs. Inhalants are very addicting. The most dangerous aspect of inhalant abuse is its likelihood to cause brain damage.

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