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Transcript of Inhalants
Inhalants have been used for centuries.
According to some researchers, inhaling gas vapours to alter one’s state of consciousness was practiced by priestesses at the Oracle of Delphi (an ancient shrine) in ancient Greece.
In the early 1800s, nitrous oxide, ether and chloroform were the anesthetics used commonly as intoxicants. Nitrous oxide was regarded as a cheap substitute for alcohol and was popularized by the British scientist Sir Humphry Davy. He held nitrous oxide parties and coined the word “laughing gas” in 1799.
Ether was used as a recreational drug during the 1920s Prohibition era, when alcohol was made illegal in the US.
In the 1940s, recreational use of solvents, primarily gasoline, became popular.
Abuse of inhalants in the United States increased in the 1950s and is now widespread among adolescents.
By the 1960s, the practice of solvent sniffing had spread across a wide variety of commercial products including paint and lacquer thinners, nail polish remover, shoe polish, lighter fluid, spray paint and others.
In more recent years, glue and gas sniffing has become a widespread problem among homeless street children in South Asia, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Kenya and other areas around the world.
Where do inhalants come from?
Inhalants are cheap, legal and easy to get.
Many inhalants are widely available as commercial
It is hard to prevent their use because these
products are found in many homes and workplaces.
Stores may refuse to sell certain products
to minors or people who are intoxicated, but there are no
laws that enforce this in Ontario.
What is it?
refers to chemical vapours or gases that produce a “high” when they are breathed in.
There are hundreds of different kinds of inhalants, roughly dividing into four different types:
These are the most commonly abused type of inhalants. “Volatile” means they evaporate when exposed to air, and “solvent” means they dissolve many other substances. Products such as gasoline, cleaning fluids, paint thinners, hobby glue, and felt tip markers contain a mixture of different types of solvents. Examples of solvents used as inhalants include benzene, toluene, xylene, acetone, naptha and hexane.
Aerosol or spray cans:
Hair spray, spray paint, cooking spray and other aerosol products contain pressurized liquids or gases such as fluorocarbon and butane. Some aerosol products also contain solvents.
This includes some medical anesthetics, such as nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), chloroform, halothane and ether, as well as gases found in commercially available products, such as butane lighters and propane tanks.
(a salt or ester of nitrous acid): Amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and cyclohexyl nitrite (also known as “poppers”) are different from other inhalants in effect and availability. Nitrites are clear yellow liquids that are inhaled directly from the bottle or from a cloth.
What are the effects?
Different types of inhalants produce different effects.
usually produce an alcohol-like effect, distorts shapes, sizes and colours of objects, and distortion of time and space. New users may be initially excited, then become drowsy and fall asleep. People who use solvents more often may feel euphoric, exhilarated and have vivid fantasies.
Physical effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, sneezing and coughing, staggering, slow reflexes and sensitivity to light.
produces a dreamy mental state, loss of motor control, hallucinations and an increased threshold for pain.
dilate blood vessels and relax muscles. The heartbeat quickens and blood rushes to the head, creating a “rush.” Nitrites also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and flushing.
How are they used?
When solvents are used as drugs, they are either:
Inhaled directly from the container (“
From a soaked rag held to the face (“
Or from a bag (“
Sometimes people spray aerosols into a bag or balloon
and then inhale the gas.
How long does the feeling last?
Several breaths of solvents will produce a high within a
few minutes of use.
This high may last up to 45 minutes, if no more breaths are taken.
Some people continue to take additional breaths to sustain the effects for several hours.
As the effects wear off, the person may feel drowsy and have a hangover with a mild-to-severe headache for up to several days.
The effects of nitrous oxide and nitrites are immediate,
and wear off within a few minutes.
Who uses inhalants?
Over 2.6 million children, aged 12 – 17, use an Inhalant each year to get high.
1 in 4 students in America has intentionally abused a common household product to get high by the time they reach the eighth grade.
Inhalants tend to be the drug that is tried first by children.
“Sniffing” and “huffing” can begin at age 10 or younger.
59% of children are aware of friends huffing at age 12.
Inhalants are the fourth most-abused substance after alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.
Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce mind-altering effects.
Drunk, dizzy or dazed appearance
Inability to coordinate movement
Hallucinations and delusions
Rashes around the nose and mouth
Prolonged sniffing of these chemicals can induce irregular and rapid heartbeat and lead to heart failure and death within minutes.
Death from suffocation can occur by replacing oxygen in the lungs with the chemical, and then in the central nervous system, so that breathing ceases.
The chronic use of inhalants has been associated with a number of serious health problems.
Lack of coordination
Serious and sometimes irreversible damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain
Memory impairment, diminished intelligence
Bone marrow damage
Deaths from heart failure or asphyxiation (loss of oxygen)
Air blast – term for inhalants
Bullet bolt – term for inhalants
Highball – term for inhalants
Glading – to use inhalant
Aimies – amphetamine; amyl nitrite
Bolt – amphetamine; isobutyl nitrite
Bullet – isobutyl nitrite
Dusting – adding PCP, heroin, another drug to marijuana
Poppers – isobutyl nitrite; amyl nitrite; methamphetamine
Quicksilver – isobutyl nitrite
Snotballs – rubber cement rolled into balls, burned and the fumes are inhaled
Whiteout – inhalants; isobutyl nitrite
Inhalant Abuse Signs
Terms may be used frequently between peers but there are other ways to know that an inhalant abuse situation is occurring. Some signs of a user include:
Paint or stains on the body or clothing
Spots or sores around the mouth
Red or runny eyes and nose
Chemical odor on the breath
A drunken or dazed appearance
Loss of appetite
Excitability and/or irritability
Are Inhalants dangerous?
using inhalants can cause death, even after just one use, by:
Sudden sniffing death
—heart beats quickly and irregularly, and then suddenly stops (cardiac arrest)
—toxic fumes replace oxygen in the lungs so that a person stops breathing
—air is blocked from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head
Convulsions or seizures
—abnormal electrical discharges in the brain
—the brain shuts down all but the most vital functions
—inhaling vomit after inhalant use
—accidents, including driving, while intoxicated
Inhalant dependence & Withdrawal
Users can develop a psychological dependence on inhalants. However, research suggests that the risk of physical dependence is relatively small. Withdrawal symptoms are usually mild, but can include;
Loss of appetite
Dangers during pregnancy
Abuse of inhalants during pregnancy also may place infants and children at increased risk of developmental harm.
Animal studies designed to simulate human patterns of inhalant abuse suggest that prenatal exposure to toluene can result in;
Reduced birth weights
Occasional skeletal abnormalities,
Delayed neurobehavioral development
Altered regulation of metabolism and body composition in males
As well as food intake and weight gain in both sexes.
Diagnosing inhalant abuse
Inhalant abusers tend to be a "
" population; their use of inhalants tends to be undetected and rarely do abusers seek treatment. For an inhalant referral to be effective, staff of the facility must carefully utilize assessment and intake procedures.
1. Determine extent, duration, range and context of inhalant products abused
2. Medical Screening (history of drug abuse or inhalant abuse)
3. Neurological tests (check for brain damage)
4. Behavior/emotional patterns (erratic and unstable behavior)
5. Possession/access to abusable inhalant products
6. Family history ( structure, dynamics and stability of family life, along with family history of inhalant abuse.)
7. Peer group ( the dynamics of the individual’s abuse of inhalant products)
Inhalant rehab centers often provide programs divided by age group.
Facilities let addicts completely focus on recovering from their addiction.
Treatment includes time for detoxification, use of a peer-patient advocate system, development of strengths and skills, and appropriate transition back into the community.
A 90-day stay at an inpatient facility, with the option of extending treatment to a 120-day stay, is recommended by many inhalant rehab centers.
It may include all family members or just those able to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family's situation.
the family can attend family therapy while the person who has an addiction participates in residential treatment. Sometimes the family may participate in family therapy even if the addicted person hasn't sought out his or her own treatment.
Early treatment assisted by early detection by widespread screening and extended treatment periods improve outcomes.
Becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse
Making the inhalants not readily available
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