What Are the Effects of My Inhalant Addiction?

Although people of all ages have the potential to abuse inhalants, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has divided common usage inhalants up according to age groups. Inhalant abusers between the ages of 12 and 15 are more likely to abuse glue, spray paint, and lighter fluid. On the other hand, older users, who begin inhalant abuse between 16 and 17, abuse nitrous oxide or “whippets.” Nitrites (such as amyl nitrites or “poppers”) are the inhalant of choice for adult users.

Whether you are a relatively young user or fall into the more adult category, your inhalant use if having a negative effect on both your brain and your body. Every time you use, you risk your life. In fact, just a single use can be enough to kill you. There just isn’t a way to safely regulate use.

If you are using inhalants and you are ready to stop, you need to contact Disorders.org at . You are doing damage to your body every time you use and we can connect you to the resources you need to stop and to stop for good.

Your Brain

With the exception of nitrates, inhalants impair the central nervous system. Inhalants actually have effects very similar to those of alcohol:

  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech

These are all the result of the negative impact inhalants have on the cerebellum: the part of the brain that coordinates and regulates muscular activity. Over time, users can develop tremors: a involuntary shaking.

The brain damage cause by inhalants can also cause dizziness, hallucinations, and delusions. With repeated use, inhalant users lose inhibitions and self-control. Other effects on the brain include feeling sleepy for hours after use and lingering headaches.

The cerebral cortex—the part of the brain that plays an important role in consciousness—can be severely damaged by inhalants, leading to:

  • Permanent personality changes
  • Memory impairment
  • Hallucinations
  • Learning disabilities

Permanent brain damage will also occur because inhalant use stops oxygen flow to the brain.

Your Body

Inhalant Addiction

Inhalant abuse can lead to long term depression.

There are well over a hundred products that are used to get high. This means that there is a great variety of side effects on the body.

A few short term effects are:

  • abdominal pain
  • apathy
  • belligerence
  • depressed reflexes
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • hearing loss
  • impaired judgment
  • lack of coordination
  • lethargy
  • limb spasms
  • loss of consciousness
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • numbness
  • severe mood swings
  • slurred speech
  • stupor
  • tingling of hands and feet
  • violent behavior
  • visual disturbances

A few serious long-term effects include:

  • bone marrow damage
  • depression
  • disorientation
  • hearing loss
  • inattentiveness
  • irritability
  • lack of coordination
  • liver and kidney damage
  • loss of coordination and limb spasms due to damage to myelin (a protective sheathing around nerve fibers that helps nerves transmit messages in the brain and peripheral nervous system)
  • muscle weakness
  • serious liver and kidney damage
  • weight loss

Inhalants can kill. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states: “Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly cause heart failure within minutes. This syndrome, known as ‘sudden sniffing death,’ can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation, especially when inhaled from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area.”

Part of a special class of inhalants, nitrites’ effects link to enhanced sexual pleasure and performance. Unfortunately, this means that abusers regularly participate in unsafe sexual practices, which can increase the danger of contracting and spreading communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Your Addiction

17,000 people use inhalants each day, according to the Alliance for Consumer Education. Most of those users are currently addicted to another substance or will face a related addiction in the future. It is worth noting inhalants don’t contain a precisely addictive component. However, chronic users do develop tolerance and will experience withdrawal symptoms. Studies demonstrate these withdrawal symptoms are a component of inhalant dependence and are clinically significant. These symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Hand tremors
  • Headaches
  • Muscular cramps
  • Nervousness

If your brain and your body are paying the price for your inhalant use and you are concerned about these risks, it is time to stop. For help stopping, contact Disorders.org at .

Finding the Best Treatment for Inhalant Abuse and Addiction

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