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Inhalants are flammable or/and volatile substances that invoke euphoric feelings. As the name suggests, these substances are ingested through the nostrils or mouth.

While other substances can also be inhaled, inhalants can only be consumed through inhalation.

When inhaled, they can produce mind-altering effects like alcohol and other substances.


These are chemical compounds that affect the central nervous system. Nitrites are present in room deodorizers, leather cleaners, and similar products.

When nitrite is inhaled, they relax the muscles by dilating blood vessels. Street names for nitrites are snappers or poppers. Isobutyl nitrite and isoamyl nitrite are good examples of nitrites.


These are liquids used for industrial and household purposes. Their main goal is to vaporize at room temperature.

  • Lighter fluid
  • Glues
  • Gasoline
  • Felt tip markers
  • Rubber Cement
  • Paint thinners

Aerosol Sprays

These sprays are a mixture of solvents and propellants.

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • Spray paint
  • Deodorant spray


Gases are used in industrial or household settings. It is also present in medical anesthetics.

Examples include nitrous oxide, whippets, and laughing gas.

How Are Inhalants Abused?

As the name suggests, abuse mainly occurs by inhaling gaseous substances. This can be done by

  • Spraying substances such as aerosols directly in the nostrils or mouth
  • By snorting or sniffing fumes
  • Inhaling the substance from a balloon or container

Can You Get Addicted to Inhalants?

Getting addicted to inhalants is possible. However, it is not as easy as getting addicted to other substances.

If you are abusing inhalants, seek medical help.

What are the Symptoms of Inhalant Addiction?

  • Mouth sores
  • Red eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Mouth odor
  • Cloth stains
  • Tiredness
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability
  • Confusion

What are the Effects of Inhalants Addiction?

Short-Term Effects

  • Muscle weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Suffocation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation


Long-Term Effects

  • Limb spasms
  • Respiratory damage
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Personality changes
  • Impaired memory
  • Slower motor functions

How is Inhalant Addiction Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by a medical professional. Urine and blood tests are generally conducted to detect toluene or benzene.

What are the likely Treatment Options?

The first step is to stop using the inhalants and seek treatment. 

Then, you will need to get treatment at a rehab center. This includes a detox program, support groups, counseling, and therapy.

Your rehab center might recommend staying in the facility (inpatient programs) or coming from home (outpatient programs)

Detox and Withdrawal

Detoxing is the first step for most treatment plans and can last 3-7 days. This is the process of removing all traces of the substance from the body.

Some people experience withdrawal symptoms after detoxing. The severity depends on the frequency and extent of the abuse.

Withdrawal symptoms include

  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Hand Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Intense cravings
  • Restlessness/agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea

Withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks.

There are no specific medications recommended for this period. However, doctors might treat individual symptoms like insomnia independently.

Support Groups

After detoxing, most rehab centers encourage support groups and counseling sessions. When combined, they can be a strong deterrent against relapses.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help users change their negative traits.

When Should You Contact Your Doctor?

Seek medical help if you have or are abusing inhalants.