Substance Use

Inhalants Use Disorder Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Natalie Lindemann, Psy.D on 10/21/2022
Dr. Natalie Lindemann, Psy.D, holds a doctorate in Forensic Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.

Dr. Natalie Lindemann
Medically Reviewed InfoBox

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

man using an aerosol spray in rag to huff

Inhalants Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options

Inhalants are substances that are ingested through the nose or mouth. They include solvents such as gasoline, paint thinner, turpentine, nail polish remover, aerosol sprays, glue, spray paint, and cleaning fluids. These chemicals are often abused because they produce feelings of euphoria like those produced by illicit drugs.

What Are Inhalants?

The term inhalant refers to any substance that is inhaled into the lungs through the nose or mouth. This is usually done to get high, although prescribed medications can also be inhaled. Sometimes people will enhance their huffing by using a plastic bag.

Common inhalants made from household products include:

  • solvents such as gasoline
  • paint thinner
  • turpentine
  • benzene
  • laughing gas
  • other petroleum distillates
  • propane
  • butane
  • Freon
  • odorizer
  • deodorant
  • carbon dioxide
  • ammonia
  • nitrous oxide
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • correction fluid
  • lighters or lighter fluid
  • certain anesthetics
  • nitrates
  • marker fluid
  • poppers
  • felt-tip markers
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other volatile substances

No matter what is being inhaled, the goal is often to achieve an altered mental state, usually getting high. However, most inhalants have negative effects on the body and brain.  They can do significant damage over time, leading to serious illnesses, brain dysfunction, or death.

Are Inhalants Addictive?

Yes, in the medical sense of addiction. That is, the body develops a physical or psychological dependence on inhalants. This dependence can be quite intense and take years to overcome. Even if you have been abusing inhalants for years and have quit several times, you may still have a strong desire to use again.

Like other addictive substances, you build a tolerance to inhalants over time. This means that you may need to use more and more of the substance to receive the same effect. You do not build a tolerance for the negative impact on your body, and continuing to use inhalants can permanently damage your lungs, brain, and other organs. There are also psychological and emotional effects that can come from the misuse of inhalants. These emotional effects can last for months or years after you have stopped using these substances completely.

Because of these risks, seeking treatment for addiction is highly recommended for anyone who has been abusing inhalants for any length of time. The sooner you get help for any form of drug use addiction, the better your chances are of staying healthy and remaining sober.

Signs of an Inhalant Addiction

Inhalants are very dangerous and addictive. In many cases, people fall into drug abuse without realizing that they have a problem until that problem becomes so great that it cannot be ignored. There are a few signs that you can look for in yourself or in others to help determine if there is an addiction problem. This includes health effects, such as the loss of coordination, heart failure, kidney damage, and loss of appetite, which could lead to weight loss.

Here are a few signs that you may be addicted to inhalants.

Unable to Resist Using Inhalants

You find practically any excuse to obtain and use the drug for the sake of getting high and readily make excuses for smoking or sniffing in front of friends and family members.

Negative Feedback from People Close to You

Your friends and family members make comments about your behavior that are critical and you don’t listen. You go to great lengths to hide your habit from others. People have seen you ingesting different types of inhalants or your doctor has diagnosed you with related health problems.

Interfering With Your Life

The need for inhalants is interfering with your daily routine and responsibilities such as school, work, or family obligations. You often skip out on social situations because you would have to stop using the drug to attend.

Spiraling Out of Control

You feel that you have lost control over your use of inhalants. If you do not have access to the drug, you start having withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, sweating, nausea, or physical problems such as headaches.

Previous Attempts to Quit

You have tried to quit using inhalants several times, but found that you still couldn’t stop using them. You think about the drug often and wonder when you will take it again.

Can You Overdose on Inhalants?

Yes, you can overdose on inhalants. They can interfere with your breathing and cause you to suffocate. Inhalants also adversely impact the nervous system. There are other ways that inhalants can be fatal. The best approach is to minimize exposure as much as possible, including stopping or preventing the use of inhalants whenever possible.

Inhalants are easily absorbed through the skin, but they also can be highly toxic if swallowed. Inhalants may produce a high by binding to receptors in the brain, but they can also force the body to use virtually all its available energy during and after use. This includes energy that is vital for personal hygiene and other functions of the body.

When inhalants are ingested, they can lead to serious burns if swallowed, especially from alcohol or other household chemicals. They can also interfere with breathing and cause suffocation or lethal overdose if inhaled deeply enough. This can potentially cause brain damage. Many inhalant users will wish to get high quickly rather than risk using more chemicals than necessary, which could lead to overdose and harm.

What To Do If You Have an Inhalant Abuse Problem

Abusing inhalants can be an overwhelming problem. You may want to try and quit using them but feel like you can’t. This is the time to get help if you want to stay safe and healthy for the rest of your life. Your first stop should be a doctor or counselor who can help you figure out what caused you to start abusing inhalants in the first place. People use drugs for many different reasons and unless you can determine why, it is unlikely that you will stop using them on your own.

Fortunately, you can get help in dealing with your inhalant abuse addiction. At Zinnia Healing, we offer a wide range of treatment programs for different types of addiction. We also have a good track record of providing the services that people need to overcome their addiction and regain control over their lives. Contact Zinnia Healing by calling (855) 430-9439 or filling out our online contact form. Let us help you start your recovery today.

Inhalant Addiction Treatment

The first step in recovering from an inhalant addiction is finding treatment. There are many different types of treatment options available, including residential rehab centers, outpatient rehab, self-help groups, counseling, and medication management.

Treatment usually begins with a comprehensive evaluation by an addiction specialist. This includes a full physical examination, psychological testing, and drug screening. This gives treatment specialists the data that they need to develop an effective treatment program for you, including addressing any immediate health threats.

As you enter treatment for inhalant abuse, you will go through several stages. These stages include detox, the treatment program, and aftercare. Completing all three of these stages in order can lead to effective treatment and is often the best way to begin your recovery.

Beginning Detox and Symptoms of Inhalant Withdrawal

The detox process (short for detoxification) is often the first step in treatment for people with a history of recent and severe substance abuse. Your body has become dependent on those substances and they need to be purged from your system. Detox creates a barrier from access to the substances you were using and gives your body time to go through withdrawal.

Some people experience symptoms of withdrawal while they are trying to kick their habit. These symptoms vary depending on the length of time since the person stopped abusing inhalants, the severity of the abuse, and the presence of other drugs or alcohol. Symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, depression, irritability, headaches, tremors, sweating, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and seizures.

Detox should be done under the care of trained medical staff who can provide the oversight and care that you need. In some cases, medications can be used to ease the pain of detox, but only under the right care and in specific situations.

Once you finish detox and you are healthy enough to continue, you move on to the next phase: the treatment program.

Inhalant Abuse Treatment Program

Your treatment program can vary significantly based on where you get treatment. However, every treatment program will have a combination of different approaches. These should include behavioral therapy to help you address the underlying reasons why you use inhalants and ways to break those habits.

Inhalant Treatment Program Components

Your treatment program consists of multiple components. They are grouped together to give you a more complete way of managing your recovery. People often need different treatment options to make improvements in their lives. By mixing and matching treatment plan components and combining them with the ones that are proven to have a positive effect, anyone can receive effective treatment. Here are some of the components that you should look for in a treatment program.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a treatment oriented towards helping people change their behavior and thought patterns surrounding substance abuse. It is one of the most important treatment options since it addresses the underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse. 

The quality of behavioral therapy options often defines the quality of a treatment program. Everyone in the program is enrolled in some form of behavioral therapy since it is the most integral part of starting a lasting substance abuse recovery. 

Counseling

Counseling is a constructive and compassionate way of working through the issues that led to your addiction. One-on-one counseling sessions with a trained counselor helps you identify and understand the underlying issues related to your abuse.

Stress Management

Stressful situations or emotions can trigger your desire for inhalants, so it is important to learn how to manage those situations. A psychologist or psychiatrist can help identify and address any underlying stress or anxiety in your life.

Family Therapy

Whether or not a person has an addiction to inhalants that is shared with another family member, family therapy can be helpful. Being open with your loved ones about the problems that you are facing is an important step towards recovery.

Medications

Medication management for inhalant abuse is recommended for people who have used either legal drugs (such as alcohol) or illegal drugs (such as those sold on the street).

Recreational Therapy Activities

Recreational therapy is designed to help patients engage in healthy activities that promote mental and physical well-being. The activities that are available to you depend on which program you are in. Every program has its own set of options that you can participate in, and they are heavily influenced by the founders of your program. You will likely be assigned to several of these options based on your interests and other factors. 

Group Counseling

Large groups of people who share the same experiences can sometimes be helpful for addicts. Group counseling is a supportive environment where you can talk about your struggles with other people who have faced the same difficulties.

Self-Help Groups

Because some people are more comfortable being around others like them, self-help group programs provide an alternative to professional treatment.

Whatever your treatment program consists of, getting help is the key. People respond differently to different treatment programs, and what works for some may not work well for others. Your goal should be to complete a treatment program that works for you, then move on to an aftercare program.

Aftercare Programs

An aftercare program is a place where you can continue the progress that you have made during your treatment program but outside of a treatment facility. A good aftercare program connects you with groups and resources that can help you stay sober even though you are not in a formal or strict treatment program. Your treatment center often helps you plan an aftercare program with resources that fit your specific needs.

Don’t Let Inhalant Abuse Addiction Stay in Control of Your Life

Overcoming inhalant abuse addiction is a difficult process, but it is possible. The key is finding the right treatment program so that you do not have to do it alone. The right program offers all the services and support that you need to start your recovery. 

You can find the right program at Zinnia Healing. Our substance abuse treatment programs are staffed by trained and certified professionals who have what it takes to help you through treatment. They are focused on finding the right path for you so that you can make it through treatment and establish healthier, more sustainable routines in your life. 

Taking the first step to get into treatment is hard, but it is the first step to reclaiming your life. Make that first step by contacting Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 or by filling out our online contact form. Let us help you start a path to a long and successful recovery from inhalant abuse.