Recent studies show that the use of inhalants has become as common as marijuana use among teenagers. Almost 15 percent of eighth-graders surveyed said they had used inhalants to get high. The numbers declined among 10th graders and 12th graders – a sign that teens may move on to stronger substances as they get older.
Inhalants are popular among young children and teens because the substances are easier to acquire than alcohol or drugs. Common home and office products such as markers, spray paint, cleaning fluids and hair spray all contain chemical vapors that make the user high when inhaled.
There are three methods used for inhaling:
The fumes from inhalants act on the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. The effects on teens can be similar to alcohol intoxication: distorted speech, lightheadedness, loss of coordination and slowed reflexes. Users may also black out or have hallucinations.
Inhalants are especially dangerous for young people because these highly toxic substances negatively impact brain development during crucial growth years and can have long-term effects. Over time, use of inhalants can also cause damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver.
In some severe cases, inhalants can even cause death. Solvents and aerosols are highly concentrated products that combine multiple chemicals and active ingredients. Inhaling them can result in “sudden sniffing death” – causing the heart to stop and killing an otherwise healthy person. Suffocation is another inhalant-related death that occurs when a person inhales using a bag or in a closed area.
If your teen is addicted to inhalants, we recommend teen substance abuse treatment through an in-patient, residential treatment program that provides 24/7 supervision to keep them safe and secure in an environment where they cannot access products that could be used as inhalants. We conduct a thorough assessment of your teen’s physical and mental condition and look specifically for health-related issues that could have been caused by their use of inhalants. We also consider any co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety that could be at the root of their addiction.
Armed with that information, our team of clinicians and counselors puts together a personalized treatment plan for your teen, designed to address their individual needs and give them the best chance for a successful recovery. After their residential program, we provide ongoing treatment and support services to help them avoid relapse and stay away from inhalants long-term.