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, because they are not meant to be used in that
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
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.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral HealthKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
Current as ofMarch 24, 2017
Current as of:
March 24, 2017
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,
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017