Inhalants include any drug that produces volatile vapors that are inhaled by the user. Overdose of inhalants may occur, and the recovery from inhalant overdose often requires medical supervision due to the potentially life-threatening effects. Learn more about the best inpatient inhalant recovery center for you by calling today.
“The recovery from inhalant overdose often requires medical supervision due to the potentially life-threatening effects.”
Legal household ingredients or industrial chemicals are often used as inhalants, but certain inhalants are specifically intended to be used as recreational drugs. Inhalants can be classified according to their chemical structures:
- Aliphatic hydrocarbons.
- Aromatic hydrocarbons.
Aliphatic hydrocarbons are generally petroleum products, such as butane, gasoline, kerosene and propane. Aromatic hydrocarbons include industrial chemicals such as toluene and xylene. Haloalkanes include many aerosols and propellants, such as chlorofluorocarbon, hydrofluorocarbons, trichloroethylene and 1,1,1-Trichloroethane. Acetone is a common inhalant found in nail polish remover. Nitrites include nitrous oxide, which is commonly used in dentistry as a general anesthesia, while amyl nitrite is a recreational drug that’s typically inhaled.
Use of Inhalants
The most common method of using aerosol propellants as an inhalant is to fill a plastic bag with the vapor and hold it over the mouth. Users of inhalants may also soak solvents in rags or pour them into an open container before inhaling the vapors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 1995 that children and teenagers living on the street are the most serious abusers of inhalants.1 The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 52 percent of patients who are admitted for inhalant abuse are between 18 and 29 years of age.2
The primary effect of inhalants depends on the specific substance. A small amount of paint thinner or rubber cement can produce an intoxicating effect similar to that of alcohol. Other inhalants can produce hallucinations, distortions in space and time, and emotional disturbances. The inhalant can cause harmful effects by itself, but other chemicals in the product can also produce adverse effects. Common adverse effects of inhalants include the following:
- Aspiration of vomit.
- Cardiac failure.
Hypoxia can occur when an inhalant is used in a closed room with insufficient ventilation, resulting in a lack of oxygen. Gases stored under pressure cool when they are released, which can cause frostbite when they are inhaled directly from the containers. Aspiration of vomit often occurs when the user loses consciousness while using an inhalant. Many inhalants cause cardiac failure and pneumonia and can also explode or catch fire, especially if a user is smoking at the same time.
Inhalant users can harm themselves while under the influence of the drug, often by driving after using. The signs of inhalant abuse include a chemical odor on the user’s breath and solvent residue on the user’s clothing. Inhalant users often have a rash on their mouths and noses.
You can stop using inhalants, and make the transition to a sober lifestyle by calling and discussing inhalant overdose rehab and treatment options.
Recovery After an Overdose
An inhalant overdose recovery center is typically the best option for obtaining treatment. Chronic abusers of inhalants often have severe psychological problems that make successful recoveries difficult without professional assistance. Recovery centers for inhalant users typically combine detoxification with psychological therapy.
The detox phase for the treatment of inhalant abuse may be similar to that of other drugs, although it often requires more time. Many inhalants accumulate in the body fat, which means they can take weeks to leave the body. Other types of drugs may require a detox phase of only a few days. The detox phase should take place in a residential facility to ensure the withdrawal symptoms don’t become life-threatening.
During psychological therapy, the therapist should constantly reassess the patient’s mental condition for improvement as the recovery progresses. Inhalant users are often teenagers, whose siblings may also have substance abuse problems. Family therapy is therefore a common part of the treatment plan for these patients. Aftercare or extended care for inhalant abusers can take on an outpatient basis after they leave their residential facilities.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse (1995). Epidemiology of inhalant abuse: an international perspective. NIDA Research Monograph. Retrieved from: http://archives.drugabuse.gov/pdf/monographs/148.pdf
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2011). Adults represent a majority of inhalant treatment admissions. Retrieved from: http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201103170330
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