When we think of drug abuse, there is a list of substances that likely come to mind. However, there is a hidden danger that is likely in your own home that is being abused more often than most even realize. Inhalants are a growing problem, and research has indicated that, between 2002 and 2006, 593,000 teens aged 12 to 17 have used them. They come in many forms. From air fresheners to cleaning agents, spray paint and more, there are dozens of everyday household products that can be abused. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of abuse can help you understand if there is a problem present under your roof.
Psychological and physical dependencies can arise from alternative substances besides common street and prescription drugs. Although less common than other drugs, Inhalant abuse prevails amongst any age group and can be deadly. Newer users of inhalants can begin typically around the ages of 12-15 years old. Inhalants do have addictive qualities and are often overlooked since they are less common.
When inhalant use is unable to be controlled although an individual knows the consequences, an addiction has occurred.
Signs of an Inhalant Addiction
Since common household items are not deemed “illegal”, many young individuals believe the easily accessible substances are a harmless way of “getting high”. Not only are these substances easy to obtain, but they are also inexpensive, or free. As a user continues to abuse the substance, the high feeling becomes harder to achieve. This leaves the abuser needing more of the substance to get what they’re looking for. These cravings make the addiction worse over time and increase the risk of serious consequences to one’s health.
Many signs of inhalant addiction truly show themselves when an abuser has recently inhaled a substance. Symptoms such as intoxication, hearing loss, blackouts, limb spasms, vision damage, cognitive impairment, and suffocation are some serious signs. Even when the substance is not recently used, but is used continuously, damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys as well as the mouth, throat, and lungs can be prominent. Contacting a doctor is absolutely necessary when these symptoms occur.
Both short, and long-term effects will result in inhalant addiction cases. These will include both physical and psychological damages to the body. Physically, the use of inhalants can be damaging to organs and body systems. By preventing your brain cells from receiving oxygen, they can ultimately devastate your health. Psychologically, loss of consciousness and cognitive impairment can occur. Other psychological effects may include mood disorders, personality changes, altered perception of reality, paranoia and confusion.
Along with physical and psychological, there is a social impact on any type of drug abuse. Isolation from family and social roles that were once enjoyed becomes regular. An unwillingness to participate in previous relationships and social functions can transpire. Until professional help is reached, people suffering from inhalant addiction will persist with these social effects.
Inhalant abuse has likely not received the recognition it deserves, and many unsuspecting parents aren’t even aware it’s a potential problem. If you have noticed a change in a loved one, a little knowledge can bring you closer to the truth. Among the warning signs of inhalant abuse to be aware of include:
- Appearance of being drunk or otherwise dazed
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Red eyes
- Runny nose
- Sores or blemishes around the mouth
- Strange chemical odor on breath or clothes
- Presence of paint on the face
It can be scary when you are unsure if a loved one is using inhalants, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For starters, since inhalant abuse is common amongst younger people, it is worth the time to speak with your pediatrician. They are familiar with your child and can help you recognize obvious signs of concern. Whether or not you have recognized any of the symptoms mentioned, it is also a good idea to proactively advocate for wise decisions and let your children, as well as their teachers and guidance counselors, know the dangers of misusing these products.
Other Signs to Look For
Aside from the physiological signs that inhalant abuse produces, there are also certain behaviors that are indicative of a problem you should be aware of. For example, if you notice a loved one is using markers to paint their fingernails, they may be using this as a way to inhale the product without being noticed. You may also notice that they tend to sniff their clothes for no apparent reason.
When It Goes Too Far
Abusers of inhalants achieve a fleeting feeling of euphoria that does not last longer than a few minutes. However, when it goes too far, serious consequences can quickly result, leading to permanent brain damage and even death. In an emergency, stay with the person and move them to an area with good ventilation. Call for emergency services and resist asking the person if they have abused an inhalant as this can lead them to become overexcited. The primary goal is to stay calm and get help quickly.
Help for Inhalant Addiction When You Need It Most
If you have identified that a loved one is indeed abusing inhalants, help is just around the corner. These products can become addictive, and seek the help offered by A Forever Recovery ensures they’re no longer exposed to temptation. Here, they will receive the support they need to overcome withdrawal symptoms safely and with individualized attention. There is life beyond inhalant addiction for those with the motivation to achieve, and the counselors at A Forever Recovery can help ensure success.