Teen Inhalant Use
Partying, whether with or without drugs or alcohol, is a fairly normal part of life as a teenager. While most teens don't make illegal substance use a habit, going out with friends, trying drugs, and pushing boundaries is only natural for those trying to find their way through the challenges of adolescence.
While most teens turn to marijuana or alcohol, others prefer to use readily accessible substances to feed a need for intoxication. For this reason, inhalants can often be a readily available alternative to hard drugs that are only available on the street.
The term inhalants refers to the use of inhaling any number of household cleaners and chemicals to get high. Generally, these substances are breathed in through the mouth and nose in a process known as huffing. Due to the extreme availability of these kinds of products, teens seeking an easy way to party don't often have far to look for a high. All kinds of substances can be used as inhalants, including paint thinner, nail polish remover, gasoline, cleaning products, spray paint, and more.
Despite the easy time teens have obtaining and using inhalants, the side effects are significantly more serious. While the intoxication derived from huffing chemicals doesn't last longer than a few minutes, the potential for brain damage, loss of consciousness, and even death are high.
Inhalants are used more frequently than any drugs besides alcohol, marijuana, tobacco – roughly 5% of 12th graders partake – and few parents are aware of the warning signs. If you are concerned about huffing in your teen, it's time to get help. Contact Teen Treatment Center today to explore what our experts can do for your child. Call now (844) 319-5239. With access to trained counselors 24/7, we're here to assist when you need a solution for addiction.
What Is an Inhalant?
An inhalant isn't a single drug; instead, the term "inhalant" describes a whole classification of chemical substances.
Inhalants aren't designed as drugs but rather are household items that happen to cause intoxication when used improperly. These products fall into a few basic categories, including aerosols, volatile solvents, gases, and nitrites.
- Aerosols include any material in an aerosol spray can, like hairspray, deodorant, fabric protectors, cooking sprays, and more. These can be used by inhaling spray directly, either through the nose or mouth.
- Solvents are home and office products that vaporize at room temperature, and can include lighter fluid, paint thinner, gasoline, felt-tip markers, and more. These substances are often sniffed directly from the container, or from huffing a chemical-soaked rag.
- Gases aren't solids or liquids, and can include both household and medical products. The most common gas inhalants include propane tanks, butane lighters, and whipped cream aerosols, which are frequently known as whippets. Medical materials like nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can also function as inhalants.
- Nitrites are a class of inhalant that is often linked to sexual performance. These muscle relaxants include amyl, butyl, and cyclohexyl, and are often known as poppers. They can be sold legally under names like leather cleaners or room odorizers for illicit use.
The Inhalant High
The high available from an inhalant is generally short-term, lasting a few minutes or less with every huff. Unlike most drugs, which can cause effects that last for hours, these short bursts lead to excessive repeat use. Many teens seeking a high use inhalants many times over the course of a party or a night with friends.
For teens in search of a potent high, inhalants can meet most of the basic requirements. For the few moments a high lasts, symptoms are similar to alcohol intoxication. Users may slur speech when talking or find themselves unable to walk in a straight line.
The high associated with inhalant use may be minor, but the effects of both short and long-term use are anything but. Despite the ease of access, inhalants are extremely dangerous.
During and immediately following use, risk of loss of consciousness is high as users take additional hits to perpetuate the feelings of intoxication. Extended repeat use can potentially be fatal, especially when using more potent chemicals. Within the hours following use, some users may feel uninhibited or reckless, while other may experience intense fatigue or headaches.
Long-term effects are more serious, causing significant health issues. With frequent use, chemicals can stay within the fatty tissue for months or even years. Additionally, prolonged abuse can cause damage to brain cells, permanently affecting the ability to learn new things, solve problems, or even hold conversations. Use can also affect nerve fibers, causing tremors, spasms, and problems with regular movement, like bending and walking.
Ease of Access
Due to the nature of inhalants, access is extremely easy, far beyond most other drugs. Virtually all inhalants can be purchased legally and for a minor investment. Whippets, for example, can provide a strong high for a few dollars, making it simple for teens to purchase drugs in mass quantities.
Virtually all households have numerous inhalants within easy reach, including lighters, cleaning supplies, aerosols, and more. With these items lying around unprotected, teens have the opportunity to get high without leaving home. In order to prevent huffing, parents are cautioned to keep potentially dangerous substances guarded, preferable locked away in a cabinet or other inaccessible area.
Symptoms of Abuse
If your teen is abusing inhalants, it may not be easy to tell. As the high only lasts a few moments, teens can both get high and come down in the time it takes parents to check the mail or use the bathroom.
However, there are some common signs and side effects that may indicate frequent inhalant use, including:
- Glassy eyes
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness, stumbling, and loss or coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood changes and irritability
Finding physical evidence of use can be an easier way to detect possible drug problems. Keep an eye out for empty aerosol containers, plastic bags or balloons, markers and glue bottles, empty whipped cream canisters, and unusual packaging or bottles.
While a few of these items seen occasionally may be indicative of proper use rather than huffing, few teens go through dozens of cans of whipped cream on a regular basis. If you have a bad feeling about the items found in your teen's possession, trust your instincts.
Studies also indicate links between inhalant use and eating disorders, as well as other co-occurring mental health issues. If you suspect inhalant use in your teen, professional assistance is extremely important.
Seeking Help for Inhalants
Discovering an addiction to inhalants can be extremely overwhelming for any parent, but seeking immediate help is the best course of action. Teen Treatment Center is a licensed and accredited rehabilitation facility, providing comprehensive support for teens with a wide range of addiction challenges.
Medical detox is the first step in the recovery process. With inpatient therapy at Teen Treatment Center, teens will be under 24-hour care from our team of doctors and nurses, providing guidance during the withdrawal process. Our doctors can also provide insight into lasting medical effects from inhalant use and offer assistance in diagnosing and treating side effects and co-occurring disorders.
Behavioral therapy helps teens get to the root of addiction, working in one-on-one and group settings to provide caring, compassionate support during recovery. Therapy sessions help teens to identify the causes behind substance abuse as well as healthy alternatives to managing stress.
Structured Therapeutic Support
Our programs take a comprehensive approach to treatment, offering numerous opportunities, including:
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Academic support
- Court liaison services
- Recreational therapy
- Basic living skills
- Spiritual care
With so many paths to recovery, teens in our program can focus on the right resources for their own needs, from faith-based guidance to support for the whole family. No matter what you need to get overcome addiction to inhalants, Teen Treatment Center can help you get there.
Gender-Separate Inpatient Treatment
Life as a teen is hard, and romantic relationships are often at the root of many challenging circumstances in young adulthood. In order to facilitate effective treatments, Teen Treatment Center provides a gender-separate approach to inpatient treatment. By minimizing distractions, the risk of judgment, and any uncomfortable situations, we can do everything possible to help teens feel safe and secure throughout their recovery.
Get Your Teen Help Today!
If inhalant use and abuse is standing in the way of your teen's bright future, help is here. Teen Treatment Center can provide compassionate guidance for your family, offering an inpatient experience designed to break the bonds of any addiction.
With a full staff of trained admissions counselors standing by 24/7, Teen Treatment Center is ready when you are. Call us at (844) 319-5239 for your confidential consultation. We're here all day and all night, including holidays, to provide the support you deserve.
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