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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, abused by any other means. These
substances are common household, industrial, or medical products. But most
people do not think of them as drugs, because they are not meant to be used in that
Inhalants commonly abused 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
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 abuse 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.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
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