Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Inhalant Use

Table of Contents


Overview

Inhalants are substances that produce chemical vapors that, when inhaled, result in mind-altering effects. The term inhalant is used because these substances are rarely, if ever, used by any other means. These substances are common household, industrial, or medical products. But most people do not think of them as drugs. This is because they are not meant to be used in that way.

Inhalants commonly used include:

When inhalants are breathed, they cause alcohol-like effects: slurred speech, lack of coordination, and dizziness. The person can become lightheaded and may have hallucinations and delusions. The effects last only a few minutes. After heavy use of an inhalant, the person may have a headache and feel drowsy for several hours. The person who inhales repeatedly over several hours can lose consciousness and die.

Aerosols can be sprayed directly into the nose or mouth. Nitrous oxide can be inhaled directly from balloons. Several terms are used for the way inhalants are breathed into the lungs, including:

Long-term health problems, such as brain, liver, kidney, blood, or bone marrow damage, can occur from inhaling some substances. Long-term use of inhalants also causes:

Inhalants are often not detected with urine or blood drug screening tests, because they have usually been eliminated from the body by the time the test is done.

Signs of use


Credits for Inhalant Use

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.