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Inhalants: Substance Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Understanding Inhalants

Also known as: Glue, Kick, Bang, Sniff, Huff, Poppers, Whippets, Texas Shoeshine

Know the Signs:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drunk, dizzy or dazed appearance
  • Unusual breath odor
  • Chemical smell on clothing
  • Paint stains on body or face
  • Red eyes
  • Runny nose

It can be hard to tell if someone has been using inhalants. If someone shows one or more of the following warning signs, they may be using inhalants.

Quick Facts About Inhalants
  • Inhalants can kill you the very first time you use them.
  • Inhalants include a large group of chemicals that are found in such household products as aerosol sprays, cleaning fluids, glue, paint, paint thinner, gasoline, propane, nail polish remover, correction fluid and marker pens. None of these are safe to inhale; they all can kill you.
  • Chemicals like amyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite ("poppers") and nitrous oxide ("whippets") are often sold at concerts and dance clubs. They can permanently damage your body and brain.
  • One "huff" can kill you. Or the 10th. Or the 100th. Every huff can be dangerous. Even if you have huffed before without experiencing a problem, there's no way of knowing how the next huff will affect you.

Your Brain on Inhalants

Inhalants are substances or fumes from products such as glue or paint thinner that are sniffed or "huffed" to cause an immediate high. Because they affect your brain with much greater speed and force than many other substances, they can cause irreversible physical and mental damage before you know what's happened.

Inhalants affect your brain and can cause you to suddenly engage in violent, or even deadly, behavior. You could hurt yourself or the people you love.

Your Heart on Inhalants

Inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly that can be dangerous for your body.

Other Parts of Your Body

People who use inhalants can experience nausea and nosebleeds; develop liver, lung and kidney problems; and lose their sense of hearing or smell. Chronic use can lead to muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone and strength.

Sudden Death

Inhalants can kill you instantly. Inhalant users can die by suffocation, choking on their vomit or having a heart attack.

Know the Risks

Chronic inhalant abusers may permanently lose the ability to perform everyday functions like walking, talking and thinking.

Need help for Abusing Inhalants?

If you or someone you know needs help with a heroin abuse problem, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment can help. With treatment programs personalized to meet the specific needs of men, women, teens, and young men, Gateway's team of experienced professionals has been helping individuals overcome substance abuse for more than 40 years


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