Teenage Inhalant Use

What is Teenage Inhalant Use? This article discusses the types of inhalants teens use, at what age teenagers are using inhalant drugs, the effects of teen inhalant drug use, and what warning signs to look for to know if an adolescent is using inhalant drugs.

Inhalants are a special class of substance that is identified by the chemical vapors that they put off. These vapors can be taken through the nose (hence the name inhalants) and product effects that are similar to a high. Indeed, because they are often readily available around the house, and because many inhalants are fast-acting, they are gaining in popularity amongst teenagers.

Types of inhalants

The use of inhalants is known as “huffing.” There are four main types of inhalants that teenagers might use to get high:

  1. Aerosols. These are pressurized and spray through the air. Spray paint, hair spray, cooking sprays, some deodorants, and fabric protector sprays are all aerosols that can be used by teenagers to get a “buzz.”
  2. Gases. There are many different types of gases that can be used as inhalants. Some of those that are harder to obtain are things used in medical procedures: chloroform, ether, nitrous oxide. However, there are a number of household items that also contain gases: butane cigarette lighters, refrigerants, whipped cream cans and propane tanks.
  3. Solvents. There are a number of solvents that become gas at room temperature, even though they are forced into liquid form for a time. Some of these include dry cleaning fluid, paint removers and thinners, some kinds of markers, white-out and gasoline.
  4. Nitrites. These are called “snappers” (and sometimes “poppers”). These are not among the most common inhalants found around the house, but they are still accessible in some cases.

Teen inhalant use among younger students

Inhalants are substances that are more commonly used by younger teenagers. It is one of the very few substances more popular with 8th graders than with 12th graders. Indeed, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that in the past month, 3.9 percent of 8th graders, 2.5 percent of 10th graders and 1.2 percent of 12th graders have used inhalants.

Perhaps younger students do not have the same access to other substances that older high school students have. Additionally, younger teenagers (13-15) have less autonomy than older teens. This means that they are more confined to the house, and may look for household inhalants to get high.

Effects of teen inhalant use

There are a number of effects that teen inhalant use has on teenagers. In the short-term, inhalant use produces an effect similar to being drunk - only the sensation comes on much more quickly. Inhibitions are dropped, and feelings of drowsiness, lightheadedness and dizziness can occur. Additionally, inhalants can affect the senses, resulting in loss of sensitivity, and even memory loss. It is possible for a strong inhalant to render a teenager unconscious. Heart failure is also a possibility if a teen sniffs for a long period of time.

In the long-term, continued inhalant use can have profound effects on the body. Inhalants affect the brain, kidneys, lungs, heart and liver. Memory loss, weight loss, irritability, depression, disorientation and weakness can all result from persistent use of inhalants.

Warning signs of teen inhalant use

It is important to be involved in your children’s lives and to look for signs that he or she may be using inhalants. Some of the warning signs of teen inhalant use include:

  • Runny nose.
  • Red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Dazed look.
  • Sores and/or rash around the mouth.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Reduced performance in school.
  • Stains (especially paint) on the hands or clothes.
  • Unexplained presence of rags soaked with chemicals.
  • An abundance of latex balloons.
  • Noticing that some household items seem to be low regularly.
  • Increased drowsiness.

One of the best ways to prevent your children from huffing is to be involved. Set clear expectations for their behavior, encourage extracurricular activities, and make sure they understand the dangers of teen inhalant use. It can also help to keep household items that can be used as inhalants in hard to get to places.

You need to be vigilant. Many parents are unaware of the dangers that they have in their homes. You need to educate yourself about inhalants so that you can help protect your teenagers.

Related Article: Teen Drug Use Warning Signs >>