Teen Inhalant Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction manifests in many forms and drug abuse occurs through many various methods, such as, drinking, smoking, snorting, injecting. Teen inhalant addiction is another form of drug abuse, which may initially go undetected by parents. Inhalant addiction is exhibited when teens inhale assorted volatile solvents and chemical vapors to get themselves ‘high’. These substances are often easily accessible; therefore, teen inhalant addiction is on the rise.

What is Teen Inhalation Addiction?

Inhalants are such chemicals that have vapors that when inhaled will produce psychoactive effects in one’s mind. These chemicals can be glues, spirits, spray paints, cleaning fluids, gasoline and many other such vapors. What makes these inhalants the ‘silent attackers’, is that nobody perceives that these could be abused as drugs. Often these illicit inhalants are simply the first step en route to harder teen drug / alcohol addictions.


  • Volatile solvents: These are liquids that can vaporize easily such as paint thinners & removers, degreasers, gasoline, correction and marker fluids, and glues etc.
  • Aerosols: These include spray paints, hair products and deodorants, computer cleaning sprays, and vegetable oil sprays.
  • Medicated chemicals: This group consists of anesthetics such as chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide gas. Amyl nitrite, butyl, cyclohexyl are also considered inhalant chemicals.

How Inhalants are Used / Abused?

Inhalants are breathed through the nose or the mouth directly from the chemical can. The fumes are sniffed / inhaled / snorted. This process is also called ‘huffing’. The chemicals can be directly sprayed into the nose or mouth, or a chemical dipped rag piece is placed in the mouth. The abusers also inhale fumes from inhalant filled balloons or plastic bags. Their intoxicating effects are short-lived; hence these habits are repeated many times for many hours, till the required effect is achieved.

Effects of Inhalants on the Brain & Body

The effects of inhalants are similar to the effects of alcohol. These effects include – slurred speech, a feeling of lack of alignment in mind and body, euphoria, and dizziness. The abusers will usually feel ‘high’ with hallucinations, lightness of head and delusions. They will also usually feel uninhibited, unable to competently hold themselves together, with feelings of drowsiness and nausea.

Inhalants cause a condition of oxygen deprivation in the body and the lungs. This condition is called Hypoxia as this affects both the brain and body cells. The addict loses simple ways of communication as the brain is blurred due to the oxygen deprivation.

Inhalant Addiction and Long-term Health Effects

  • Longer period of inhalants’ abuse affects the nervous system. The nerve fibers and cells are protected by a fatty tissue called Myelin that works as transmitters to carry signals. The damaged Myelin leads to spasms, tremors, and even limits normal body actions of walking and talking.
  • Liver and kidney damage.
  • Other permanent damage can include: Hearing loss, limb spasms, damage to nervous system and bone marrow damage (specific to inhaling gasoline fumes).
  • Fatality: Deaths have been reported after addicts have continued inhaling propane, butane, and other aerosol chemicals. Lack of oxygen due to the addiction can lead to panting with shortness of breath, as well as fatality in the extreme cases.

Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Inhalant addiction requires expert therapeutic and psychological help with personalized treatment. A rehabilitation facility that is multi-faceted, treating teens with psychotherapy treatment, music, and art therapy, while all the while involving the patient’s family in the healing process, is ideal. Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center (Hillcrest) is a rehabilitation facility with expert residential treatment and individualized therapeutic programs that is well-equipped to diagnose and treat your teen with inhalant addiction. There is hope for complete healing, and we at Hillcrest are here to guide you on this journey and support you and your loved one throughout this important process.

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