What You Need To Know About Inhalant Abuse (As Parents)
Inhalants are not illegal, and their accessibility is making it more dangerous compared to other illicit substances. The use of inhalants has become pretty much part of many people’s day to day living and activities.
We encounter them every day; it could be your child’s shoe glue, your husbands paint thinners and removers, your car’s gasoline, and even your high schooler’s felt-tip marker fluids.
It comes in so many simple things that you wouldn’t even notice how you’ve become instrumental to your kid’s new found hobby – inhalant addiction.
Inhalants As The Gateway To Its Evil Counterparts
Inhalants are substances that one can find in more than a thousand household items, and due to its accessibility, its users are mostly teenagers aged twelve to fifteen (12-15). Researchers say that their addiction can be a product of peer pressure to feel belongingness to a group.
Since inhalants are largely inexpensive and simple-looking, no one would suspect anyone or a kid, for example, to be addicted to it.
A few examples of inhalants are the following:
- Paint Thinners or removers
- Lighter Fluid
- Correction Fluids
- Spray Paints
- Hair or Deodorant Sprays
- Aerosol computer sanitation products
- Butane Lighters
- Propane Tanks
- Whipped Cream Aerosols
- Oil Sprays
- Felt-tip Marker’s Fluid
- Dry cleaning fluid
- Room Odorizer
- Leather cleaner
- Nitrous Oxide
- Liquid Aroma
and much more.
Psychologists also agree that this “naive” addiction is going to lead them to a more expensive and stronger kind of illegal substances or drugs that give higher levels of euphoria like heroin.
It is important to keep a close eye on your children and to observe any behaviour that signals their addiction or physical dependence on the said substances.
As parents, you should also be familiar with the terms that youngsters give inhalants. A few examples are huffing/ sniffing/snorting drugs, whippet, rush, aimies, bolt, bullet, poppers, dusting, whiteout, glading, highball, quicksilver, bang, etc.
They can be very creative about the terms they use, so another way to know whether they are abusing it is to observe its symptoms.
Inhalant Addiction Symptoms- How Do I Know If My Kid Is Addicted To Inhalants?
Anyone who is abusing inhalants on a regular basis will show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Paint stains on the body. If your kid or anyone you know keeps an item of clothing with paint stain or keeps clothes with such for suspicious reasons, you have to check their rooms for thinners or paints.
Throw away or keep any leftover paints in places where they don’t have access.
- Red or Runny Eyes and Nose. Sniffing inhalants on a regular basis is going to irritate the nose.
- Appetite Loss. Substance abusers lose appetite due to brain rewiring. The brain is the first organ that gets affected when someone abuses a drug.
- Mouth Sores or Spots. Some inhalant abusers administer it through mouth sprays, and constant misuse of these substances can lead to mouth sores.
- Frequent Mood Swings and Extreme Emotional States. Inhalant abusers can be depressed or euphoric without reason. Their personality is also going to change drastically, and they can become hostile towards people.
- Hallucinations, Timelessness, And Spacelessness. If your kid is experiencing the “high” from inhalants, you will observe them seeing or feeling things that weren’t there. Like being in another world, going out of their body, and floating.
They will report seeing, hearing, and even experiencing things that could either be hellish or heavenly. They would get too scared or too excited about unusual things.
- Lack Of Motor Coordination, Vomiting, and Nausea. They will also have frequent falls and vomiting. They will also feel nauseous while or after getting high.
- Weird Speech, Behaviour, and Judgment. Kids who abuse inhalants will talk as if they are drunk with alcohol. They will also have erratic behaviors when “high.”
Aside from inhaling these substances, they also come in injections and some people even mix them with alcohol. Users can be ingenious, and that is why it is crucial to keep an eye on your kids if you are suspicious.
Dealing With Inhalant Addiction
Suddenly stopping the use of inhalants may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. If you intend to have you or your kid go through detoxification, it is not something you can DIY.
You need to get medical help to treat it in the right way.
If you are suspicious of your kid or anyone you know is having an inhalant addiction, here are the symptoms you can watch out for:
- Delusionary thoughts
- Uneven manner of walking
- Poor muscle coordination
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Extreme emotions like depression, anxiety, irritability, excitement
- Drunk speaking
- Mouth blisters
- Lack of focus
- Bad breath
- Poor appetite
- Short-term memory loss
Inhalants are also the fourth most abused substance in the world. Inhalant addiction is also not unusual in the US. In fact, it affected over 2 million American teenagers a decade ago.
That is according to the study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
The study also stated that most parents didn’t know how their children got addicted to inhalants.
Aside from the outward physical effects, inhalant abuse also causes hearing loss, mental retardation, and long-term brain and central nervous system damages. It also damages organs like the kidney and the liver.
Inhaling solvents on a regular basis will melt the fatty tissues in the central nervous system and the brain, which causes neurological damage in the long run.
Inhalant Overdose And What To Do About It
Do take note that aside from the dangerous withdrawal symptoms, suddenly stopping the use of inhalants without medical help can cause tolerance levels to go down. Consequently, when tolerance levels suddenly plummet, the risks of overdosing is high in case relapse happens.
An overdose happens when someone takes in drugs that are too much for their body to handle.
Inhalant overdose doesn’t also just happen because of a relapse; it can happen anytime especially when the addicted person can no longer control his or her cravings to sniff non-stop.
This overdose will then result in confusion, convulsions, and worse, comatose.
Here are the most common symptoms of inhalant overdose:
- Pupil dilation
- Rapid or uneven heart rate
- Drunk speech, slow movement and poor muscle coordination
- Losing consciousness
- Brain damage
How To Get Help
Just like any drug dependent, inhalant addicts also need immediate treatment. You can’t wait for these substances to damage every single organ in your body, especially the brain.
It’s more than just rewiring the brain back to its pre-addicted state; it is about giving these users freedom from drugs.
If you or someone you know, like your kids, suffer from inhalant addiction, it’s high time you look for inpatient rehabilitation centers. Although there are outpatient rehab centerss that offer the same help, inpatient rehab is still the best and most efficient way to go.
If you choose outpatient rehab, you will have to take full responsibility for the success of the detoxification process. You have to ensure that there will be no access to any inhalants and that you can handle the withdrawal symptoms with medical know-how.
Inpatient rehab centers are the expensive choice of course, but it will guarantee that you or your patient will have zero access to any inhalants or illegal substances. It will also assure you that patients get all the medical help and knowledge they need to have a successful rehabilitation.
Also, the patient will be equipped with knowledge about how to handle their cravings to avoid relapse and to keep them sober for the rest of their lives.
They also get motivation and inspiration from the people around them who trumped addiction.
If you are concerned about the withdrawal symptoms that you or your patient may go through during the detoxification process, here’s a list of the symptoms for your peace of mind:
- Extreme emotional states
- Rapid heart rate
- Insomnia, Nightmares
- Poor judgment, memory, focus
- Delirious, Delusions
- Convulsions, Hallucinations
- Loss of Appetite
As you can observe, the signs and symptoms of addiction, withdrawal, and overdose are closely alike, that is why it is so difficult to identify what exactly your patient or your kid, for example, is going through at the moment.
Rehabilitation And Aftercare
Inhalant addiction starts earlier in life when compared to other more abused substances. It is important to get immediate medical help as soon as you confirm inhalant addiction within your family, especially your kids.
Inhalants are fatally toxic and can result in long-term adverse effects on the body.
Rehabilitation centres have the right devices needed to make the process efficient and to help their patients become truly free from drugs physiologically.
Inpatient rehabilitation usually last for thirty (30) to ninety (90) days, depending on how severe the case is. The patient is then enrolled to Aftercare once they get out of the rehab facility.
It is to ensure that the underlying psychological issues, which takes longer to treat, are duly addressed. Depression, anxiety, and other mental issues are the most common reasons why people cling to drugs.
Aftercare is also there to ensure that a patient stays sober outside the facility and to keep them connected to a network of motivated individuals who also want freedom from addiction.
As a parent, you have to understand that addiction is a mental illness that needs treatment. Do not blame them for bringing themselves into that situation. Instead, help them get their life back by bringing them to rehab immediately.
You know first hand their dreams and remind them about it. Help them get back on their feet and get them the help they need.
Dream with them again.