Inhalant Abuse – A Different Kind of Addiction

Have you ever heard of inhalant abuse? This is a type of addiction that are commonly seen on both children and teens worldwide, particularly in third world countries. Purposely inhaling substances do have adverse effects in health.

These habits are considered irrational and are linked to different emotional and mental issues. People who have such addiction chooses a variety of household products as its target. Commonly, a glue or solvent is used to achieve euphoric state.

Read on and learn more about this alarming inhalant abuse health issue.

What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are different types of drugs or substances that are taken in via nose (pulmonary route), which is primarily to achieve mind-altering “high” or euphoric state. Inhalant abuse is not similar with illegal drug addiction or tobacco use, wherein the substance are sniffed after heating.

Inhalants are primarily used for medicinal purposes such as nitrous oxide, for dental anxiolytic. People who abuse themselves with different variations of substances are categorized as “recreational drugs”, which doesn’t function as medicinal treatment but rather for intoxication purposes.

Teens who do this type of activity is called huffing. In some streets in Manila and Borneo, children are often seen huffing substances called “rugby”, a solvent glue used in furniture. We use to call them “rugby boys” or “solvent boys”.

Huffing is sometimes referred to “sniffing” and “bagging”. However, these terms are quite similar to huffing but they just differ in some ways. To sniff means to snort fumes from a substance, while bagging means to pour a substance into a bag or container.

Some of the commonly used household products that are abused are the following:

  • Aliphatic Hydrocarbons (petroleum products, butane, kerosene, etc.)
  • Aromatic Hydrocarbons (xylene, rugby, solvents, glue, etc.)
  • Ketones (nail polish remover, etc.)
  • Haloalkanes (hydroflourocarbons, chloroflourocarbons, etc.)
  • Nitrites (nitrous oxide, alkyl nitrites, etc.)

Inhaling a spray paint or a glue occasionally won’t harm your health. But huffing any substances that are listed above do have either short-term or long-term health effects, mostly are even lethal and deadly.

Read More: MedScape Reference – Inhalants, Drugs and More

Inhalant Abuse Health Effects

As mentioned earlier, huffing or inhalant abuse can cause alcohol-like intoxification, which leads to getting high. For many abusers, they can get inhalants for cheaper prices compared to cigarettes and alcohol.

In under developed countries such as the Philippines, teens opt to use solvents for the following reasons:

  • Poverty
  • Hunger
  • Depression

inhalant abuse childThe initial effects of huffing are dizziness, slurred speech, inhibition of certain things, loss of coordination and control, hallucinations, delusions, impaired judgement, nausea, vomiting, weakness and many other possible side effects.

According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, nearly all inhalant substances produces a pleasurable effect through depressing the central nervous system. Inhaled nitrates help dilate the blood vessels, which increases heart rate and produce euphoric sensation that can last for several minutes.

Once the heart begins to work double time, it will produce irregular heartbeat (dysrhythmia) which could lead to heart attack.

Severe inhalant abuse can damage the liver and kidneys. Other known risks are brain damage, hearing loss, suffocation, seizures and death.

Read More: Inhalant Abuse – National Institute of Drug Abuse

How to Prevent Inhalant Abuse

If you feel that you have the urge or huffing tendencies, the first thing that you should do is to talk to people about your problem. Identify your needs, wants and what drives you to huff household products.

It is much ideal if you can open a discussion with an addiction expert or any health professional. Talking to your family is a wise move and be a good listerner.

You should keep yourself active in various activities such as exercise, sports and many others. Consider all the health risks and set some health standards.

Plan your own prevention methods and stick with it. Take out all possible products that you can huff so that you can prevent abusive behaviors.

If there are others who are bad influence to you, make sure that you stay away from them for good. Plus, avoid isolation and have someone to accompany you all the time.

Is Your Child Huffing?

What would you do if you suspect your child huffing solvents or any substances? Inhalant abuse in children is very common in the United States and other countries.

Most cases, children conceals their addiction to their parents. However, there are ways that you can do to identify if your child is an inhalant abuser or not. Pinpoint the following factors:

  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Bad breath
  • Chemical odors in clothing
  • Paint or stains on face or clothing
  • Slurred speech
  • Hidden empty containers or inhalant products
  • Your child loves to be isolated all the time

If your suspicion were true and your child confess, the first thing that you should do is to talk to your child about his/her hidden habit. In opening a discussion with your child, here are some dependable tips that you can do:

  • Stay calm and don’t get mad or shout to your child
  • Ask your child about the origin of his/her abusive behavior over inhalants
  • How long this inhalant abuse persists?
  • What drives your child to huff substances?
  • Is there someone who influenced your child?
  • Explain to your child the consequences of inhalant abuse

You need to emphasize to your child the many dangers of inhalant abuse and the difficulty of withdrawal. Withdrawal alone does have similar symptoms so telling these information to your child may help stop inhalant abuse.

If your child had difficulty ceasing inhaling substances, then you need to consult a health professional for some medical and rehabilitation treatments. This can be hard for you as a parent but supporting your child’s health needs are crucial for his/her recovery.

Inhalant Abuse Summary

Inhalant abuse is a very serious health condition and should be addressed or treated immediately. Remember that this type of abusive behavior is a “mental” issue, which means appropriate action is needed to achieve treatment success.

If you think you have tendencies of inhaling substances or you found out that your child is huffing, seek professional help as soon as possible.

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