Choosing the Right Inhalant Addiction Treatment Program
Gases and fumes from everyday products inhaled or sniffed to produce a high are referred to as inhalants.1 Inhalants can affect your brain, heart, organs, and hearing, and may result in sudden death. Although the high may only last a few minutes, inhalants can be quite addictive. For many, an inhalant addiction treatment program may be necessary to assist in the withdrawal process and to prevent continued use.
In this article:
- Inhalant Addiction Treatment Settings
- Therapies for Inhalant Addiction
- Benefits of Attending Inhalant Addiction Treatment
- How to Choose an Inhalant Addiction Treatment Program
- How to Find a Program
Inhalant Addiction Treatment Settings
In 2018, research found that over 2 million people over the age of 12 used inhalants.2 It is also estimated that approximately 70% of individuals who used inhalants met the criteria for a mental health and/or a substance use disorder (SUD).
Inhalant addiction can be treated in several different settings, including:
- Inpatient inhalant rehab
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
- Standard outpatient programs
When considering what level of care you may need, there are six dimensions that a provider will examine. These six dimensions include:4
- Acute intoxication and/or withdrawal potential
- Biomedical conditions and complications
- Emotional, behavioral, or cognitive conditions and complications
- Readiness to change
- Relapse, continued use, or continued problem potential
- Recovery/living environment
For individuals unable to abstain from inhalant use or who have acute medical and mental health concerns, inpatient or residential treatment may be the best option.4 In addition to the monitoring aspect of residential care, individuals will also receive therapy and other supportive care. Inpatient or residential care often provides detoxification services for patients who are in danger of severe withdrawal. These individuals need the highest level of care, resulting in 24-hour monitoring and medical support.
After detox is complete, many may continue services at the inpatient level. At this point, treatment is highly structured to help you focus solely on recovery. You will also attend therapy to help you examine your beliefs and patterns of behavior. As you examine these, you will be taught skills to help you change behaviors and interact more constructively with others.
Residential treatment can be long- or short-term. Long-term residential care tends to be between 6 and 12 months. Short-term residential care tends to be 3 to 6 weeks in length. Additionally, while both short– and long-term residential care are likely to include peer support, short-term residential tends to provide briefer interventions and a stronger focus on 12-step approaches.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP), which are the most intensive outpatient options, can occur in the same facility as inpatient care and intensive outpatient care.5 At this level, programs specialized in PHP provide services to those individuals who experience mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. Many PHP have physicians available during the day and a specialized interdisciplinary team that manages your symptoms. You will be observed throughout the treatment day and participate in therapy as well.
In comparison to inpatient care, individuals in partial hospitalization programs can leave, as many are “day programs” you attend for the day and go home at night. Intensive outpatient has similar characteristics but is not as intense or frequent as PHP.
Traditionally, intensive outpatient programs have consisted of at least nine hours per week.6 These nine hours are usually divided among three days of the week for three-hour long sessions each. Some programs have expanded this by providing up to 30 hours a week, whereas some can be as few as six hours a week. Intensive outpatient treatment is usually at least 90 days, followed by continued standard outpatient services.
Intensive outpatient has several core features and services, including:
- A program intake with a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment
- A program orientation
- Individualized treatment planning
- Individual and group counseling services
- Family counseling
- Psychoeducation groups
- Case management
- Peer-support groups
- 24-hour crisis coverage
- Basic medical treatment
- Substance use monitoring
- Educational and vocational services
- Medication management (if appropriate)
Outpatient rehab treatment is ideal for individuals who can abstain from inhalant use and have no serious medical or mental health problems.4 Outpatient treatment can vary in the forms it takes and the intensity of services.5
For some standard outpatient programs, groups may be a large component of your treatment. These groups can include both skill-based, professionally led and peer support groups. Standard outpatient treatment will consist of individualized drug counseling that will focus on reducing and stopping inhalant use. It may also focus on other facets that may contribute to your inhalant use, such as:
- Illegal activity
- Family discord
- Social interactions
At this treatment level, many individuals will be seen at least once a week, potentially twice a week. Once sustained recovery is established, your counselor may work with you to reduce visit frequency to every other week or even monthly counseling.
Therapies for Inhalant Addiction
At present, there are no FDA-approved psychopharmacological treatments for inhalant abuse, meaning there are no specialized medications to treat the dependence on an inhalant.5 However, therapeutic treatment for inhalant addiction can be effective to treat inhalant addiction. These treatments include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
Additionally, the majority of individuals who seek treatment for an inhalant use disorder are adolescents.4 Inhalant addiction treatment programs for this age group should incorporate adolescent and teen considerations, including parental involvement and therapy focused on adolescent addiction.5 It is also vital to recognize and promote prosocial peer relationships.
Individual therapy for inhalant addiction will usually include behavioral therapies designed to help engage people in treatment and provide incentives to strive toward recovery.
Types of behavioral therapies can include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common behavioral therapies and focuses on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they are interconnected.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be used to help you integrate the opposing concepts of accepting yourself as you are while working to change certain behaviors and thinking patterns.
- Contingency management (CM) interventions provide tangible incentives to reinforce target behaviors (e.g., no substance use).
Group therapy can help you focus on teaching skills and/or emotional and behavioral processing to help recovery from inhalant use disorder. Individuals in group therapy will likely learn specifics about addiction, coping skills, and assistance in preventing relapse. Unlike peer support groups, group therapy is led by a trained professional.
For many individuals, their inhalant abuse has been connected to or negatively impacted the people they love or those who love them. Family therapy has consistently been found to be beneficial and demonstrated positive effects for both adults and adolescents. Family therapy can assist members in re-establishing healthy boundaries and developing deeper understandings of each other, leading to more fulfilling relationships that can support long-term recovery.
Benefits of Attending Inhalant Addiction Treatment
There are many benefits to attending inhalant addiction treatment. These can include:2,3,6
- Decreased or stopped inhalant use
- Development of skills and tools to avoid inhalant use
- Increased social support
- Treatment for other co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression)
- Improved relationships
- Decreased risk of illegal activity and other high-risk behaviors
- Decreased risk of serious injury to your health
- Decreased risk of relapse
- Improved social skills
Additionally, your treatment facility may connect you with aftercare services, strengthening the likelihood of positive recovery outcomes. Your treatment facility may also connect you with case management services that may assist with employment and financial concerns.
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How to Choose an Inhalant Addiction Treatment Program
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a treatment center. A few of the initial things to consider include the following:
- Location of the treatment facility
- Length of treatment
- Level of treatment (e.g., residential or outpatient)
- Cost to receive services
- Reputation of the facility
- Specializations and treatment outcomes
- Ability to provide follow-up and aftercare services
Several additional things to consider include:
- The level of social support you have
- The level of financial support available to you
- Your ability to take time off of work, or not
- Your ability to be away from home
- Your existing medical or mental health conditions
- The facility’s theoretical orientation for therapy (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy)
- The facility’s religious or spiritual orientation
How to Find a Program
Asking for help for inhalant abuse and inhalant addiction can be a difficult decision to make but can create positive change in your life. You can start by asking your existing medical provider, such as your primary care physician, for treatment referrals or recommendations on which form of treatment is best for you.
To learn more about inhalant addiction treatment program options, please give us a call at 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) . Our specialists can help locate a set of services near you that could fit your needs.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. (2018). Tips for teens: Inhalants, the truth about inhalants.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 national survey on drug use and health.
- Conjanu, A. I. (2018). Inhalant abuse: The wolf in sheep’s clothing. The American Journal of Psychiatry Residents’ Journal, 13(2), 7-9.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. (2013). Substance abuse: Clinical issues in intensive outpatient treatment.