Long-term Inhalant Use: Understanding the Side Effects

what are the side effects of long term use of inhalants

What are the side effects of long term use of inhalants? Inhalants are chemical substances that produce psychoactive effects when inhaled. These substances are commonly found in household products and are often used as drugs for their mind-altering effects. While inhalants are typically used by young adults and teenagers, anyone can become addicted to them if used regularly over a long period.

There are four main types of inhalants:

  1. volatile solvents
  2. aerosols
  3. gases
  4. nitrites

Each type has different chemicals and effects on the body. A study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that 22% of inhalant users develop an addiction to these substances.

When inhaled, these substances quickly enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, causing a rush of euphoria and relaxation. However, long-term inhalant use can have severe consequences on the body’s vital organs and overall health.

The short-term effects of inhalant use include dizziness, slurred speech, impaired judgment and motor skills, and loss of consciousness. On the other hand, long-term inhalant use can lead to various health issues, including:

  • Damage to the Brain and Nervous System: Inhalants can cause permanent brain damage and impair cognitive function, leading to motor skills impairment, memory loss, and difficulty with thinking and problem-solving.
  • Liver and Kidney Damage: Regular inhalant use can lead to liver and kidney damage, causing organ failure and long-term health complications.
  • Heart Problems: Inhalants can cause irregular heart rhythm, increased blood pressure, and even heart failure in extreme cases.
  • Respiratory Issues: Inhaling these substances can cause inflammation and damage to the lungs and airways, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Hearing Loss: Long-term inhalant use can damage the inner ear, leading to hearing loss and other auditory problems.

Signs of inhalant abuse include chemical odor on breath or clothing, paint or stains on the face or clothing, and empty aerosol cans or bottles lying around. If you or someone you know is struggling with inhalant abuse, seek professional help immediately. Treatment for inhalant abuse often includes therapy, counseling, and support groups.

The dangers of long-term inhalant use are severe and can even be life-threatening. Inhaling these substances can cause sudden death due to heart failure or suffocation. It is crucial to educate young adults and teenagers about the dangers of inhalant use and to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling with addiction.

Prevention is the key to avoiding the dangers of long-term inhalant use. Parents and caregivers should keep household products containing inhalants out of reach of children, and proper education about the consequences of inhalant use should be provided to adolescents. It is also essential to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with inhalant abuse to prevent long-term health consequences.
what are the side effects of long term use of inhalants

Key Takeaways:


  • Long-term use of inhalants can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system, liver, kidneys, heart, and respiratory system.
  • Inhalant abuse can lead to hearing loss and other long-lasting health issues.
  • Early detection and treatment of inhalant abuse is crucial in preventing long-term consequences.


What Are Inhalants?

Inhalants are chemical substances that, when inhaled, produce mind-altering effects. They are often found in common household products, such as glue, paint thinners, and cleaning fluids. People typically use inhalants by sniffing or huffing the fumes, or by spraying them directly into their mouth or nose.

These substances can cause various short-term effects, including dizziness, nausea, and slurred speech. However, long-term use of inhalants can result in serious health consequences, such as damage to the liver and kidneys, hearing loss, and brain damage. It is crucial to be aware of the risks associated with inhalants and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with their use.

What Are the Types of Inhalants?

When it comes to inhalants, there are various types that can be used and abused. These substances can cause severe side effects, especially when used for a long period of time. In this section, we will discuss the different types of inhalants and how they can be harmful to one’s health. From volatile solvents to nitrites, we will uncover the potential dangers associated with each type of inhalant. Understanding these distinctions can help individuals make informed decisions about their substance use and prioritize their health and well-being.

1. Volatile Solvents

Volatile solvents are a type of inhalant that is often abused for its mind-altering effects. Prolonged use of these solvents can have severe health consequences. Here are the potential side effects of the long-term use of volatile solvents:

  1. Brain and Nervous System Damage: Inhalants can cause damage to the brain, resulting in memory problems, cognitive impairment, and difficulty with coordination.
  2. Liver and Kidney Damage: Volatile solvents can also harm the liver and kidneys, leading to organ dysfunction and potential failure.
  3. Heart Problems: Long-term use of volatile solvents can cause irregular heartbeats, heart palpitations, and an increased risk of heart attacks.
  4. Respiratory Issues: The use of inhalants can damage the respiratory system, causing chronic cough, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
  5. Hearing Loss: Prolonged exposure to volatile solvents can result in permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

These side effects serve as a warning of the dangers of long-term inhalant use and stress the importance of prevention and treatment for inhalant abuse.

2. Aerosols

Aerosols are a type of inhalant that can have harmful effects when abused. Here are some steps to understand and address aerosol abuse:

  1. Recognize the signs: Look for signs like empty aerosol cans, chemical odors on clothing or breath, and changes in behavior or mood.
  2. Educate: Teach individuals about the dangers of aerosol abuse and the specific risks associated with inhaling these substances.
  3. Monitor access: Keep aerosol products locked away or in secure areas to prevent easy access for potential abusers.
  4. Encourage communication: Create a safe space for open conversations about aerosol abuse and provide resources for help, such as hotlines or counseling services.
  5. Seek professional help: If someone is struggling with aerosol abuse, encourage them to seek professional treatment, such as therapy or rehabilitation programs.

3. Gases

Gases are one of the types of inhalants commonly abused. Here are some steps to learn more about them:

  1. Gases include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), butane, propane, and medical anesthetics.
  2. These substances are inhaled through a bag or by spraying them into the mouth or nose.
  3. Gases quickly enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, causing a rapid high.
  4. They can cause dizziness, hallucinations, euphoria, and impaired judgment.
  5. Long-term use of gases can lead to serious health consequences like liver and kidney damage.

Pro-tip: If you suspect someone is abusing gases, encourage them to seek professional help to address the underlying issues and prevent further harm.

4. Nitrites

Nitrites are a type of inhalant that can be found in certain products like room deodorizers and leather cleaners. When inhaled, nitrites relax and dilate blood vessels, resulting in a “rush” or lightheaded feeling. However, the use of nitrites can also have harmful effects on the body.

Prolonged use of nitrites can increase the risk of developing blood disorders, such as methemoglobinemia, which impairs the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. It can also cause damage to the liver and kidneys, and lead to heart problems, respiratory issues, and even hearing loss. It is crucial to be aware of the dangers of nitrite inhalants and seek treatment if necessary.

How Do Inhalants Work?

Inhalants are substances that are typically inhaled through the nose or mouth and can have various effects on the body and mind. Here is a list of steps that explain how inhalants work:

  1. Inhalation: Inhalants are inhaled directly into the lungs.
  2. Rapid absorption: The chemicals in inhalants are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
  3. Brain impact: Inhalants affect the central nervous system, causing a range of effects like dizziness, euphoria, and confusion.
  4. Impaired judgment: Inhalants can impair judgment, leading to risky behaviors and accidents.
  5. Organ damage: Prolonged inhalant use can cause damage to organs like the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
  6. Dependency: Regular inhalant use can lead to psychological and physical dependence.

Inhalant use dates back centuries. In ancient civilizations, people used inhaling substances like herbs and fumes for spiritual and medicinal purposes. However, it is important to note that the modern use of inhalants for recreational purposes can have severe health consequences and should be avoided.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Inhalant Use?

When considering the immediate impacts of using inhalants, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers and risks involved. Inhalant use can result in short-term effects such as:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • impaired judgment

These substances can also cause:

  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • and even loss of consciousness

Furthermore, inhalant use can cause harm to vital organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. It is crucial to seek assistance and support if you or someone you know is struggling with inhalant use in order to prevent further damage and long-term consequences.

What are The Side Effects of Long Term Use of Inhalants?

The abuse of inhalants, such as household cleaners, spray paint, and other chemical substances, can have serious long-term effects on the body. In this section, we will explore the various ways in which long-term inhalant use can impact our health. From damage to the brain and nervous system to respiratory issues and hearing loss, we will delve into the potential consequences of prolonged inhalant abuse. Let’s take a closer look at the long-term effects of inhalant use and the importance of seeking help for addiction.

1. Damage to the Brain and Nervous System

Long-term inhalant use can result in significant damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to various side effects, including:

  1. Loss of coordination and motor skills
  2. Memory problems and difficulties with thinking and concentration
  3. Behavioral changes, such as aggression and irritability
  4. Impaired judgment and decision-making abilities
  5. Increased risk of developing mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety

These effects can have long-lasting consequences and may persist even after discontinuing inhalant use. Seeking professional help and support is crucial in addressing and managing these neurological consequences.

2. Liver and Kidney Damage

Long-term inhalant use can have serious side effects on the liver and kidneys. Here are some steps to prevent liver and kidney damage from inhalant abuse:

  1. Avoid inhaling volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites.
  2. Seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms like abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin, or changes in urination that may indicate liver and kidney damage.
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins and support organ function.
  4. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to maintain the health of your liver and kidneys.
  5. Avoid mixing inhalants with alcohol or other drugs, as it can increase the risk of liver and kidney damage.

3. Heart Problems

Long-term use of inhalants can lead to various heart problems, including:

  • Irregular heart rhythm: Inhalant abuse can disrupt the normal electrical activity of the heart, leading to irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.
  • Decreased oxygen supply: Inhalants can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, depriving the heart of oxygen and causing strain on the cardiovascular system.
  • Increased blood pressure: Prolonged inhalant use can elevate blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications.
  • Damage to heart muscles: Some inhalants have toxic effects on cardiac muscles, impairing their ability to contract and pump blood effectively.

These heart problems can have serious consequences and require immediate medical attention and intervention.

4. Respiratory Issues

Inhalant abuse can result in a variety of respiratory issues, which can have long-term consequences for one’s health. Here are some steps to take when addressing respiratory issues caused by inhalant use:

  1. Recognize the symptoms: Look out for indicators such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and frequent respiratory infections.
  2. Seek medical help: Consult a healthcare professional who can assess the extent of damage and recommend appropriate treatment.
  3. Quit inhalant use: Completely stop using inhalants to prevent further damage to the respiratory system.
  4. Follow treatment plans: Adhere to the prescribed medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes recommended by the healthcare provider.
  5. Practice healthy habits: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding exposure to environmental pollutants.

5. Hearing Loss

Long-term use of inhalants can have detrimental effects on hearing. Here’s a list of steps to prevent hearing loss associated with inhalant abuse:

  1. Education: Raise awareness about the risks of inhalant abuse and its impact on hearing health.
  2. Early intervention: Identify and address inhalant abuse in its early stages to prevent long-term consequences.
  3. Safe alternatives: Encourage individuals to engage in safe recreational activities, such as sports or hobbies, as a healthy alternative to inhalant use.
  4. Support systems: Provide counseling and support services to individuals struggling with inhalant abuse to promote recovery and reduce the risk of further damage.
  5. Communication: Encourage open dialogue about hearing health and the importance of protecting one’s hearing from harmful substances and preventing hearing loss.

What Are the Signs of Inhalant Abuse?

Recognizing the signs of inhalant abuse is crucial in identifying and addressing this dangerous behavior. Keep an eye out for the following indications of inhalant abuse:

  • Frequent and unexplained chemical odors on clothing or breath
  • Paint or solvent stains on skin or clothing
  • Slurred speech and impaired coordination
  • Nausea, headaches, and dizziness
  • Behavioral changes, such as irritability or aggression

If you suspect someone is abusing inhalants, it is important to seek professional help immediately to prevent further harm. Remember, early intervention greatly increases the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Pro-tip: Open communication and educating young people about the dangers of inhalant abuse can play a vital role in prevention.

How Can Inhalant Abuse Be Treated?

  • Medical Evaluation: The first step in treating inhalant abuse is a thorough medical evaluation to assess any physical or mental health complications.
  • Detoxification: The individual may need to undergo a structured detoxification process to safely eliminate the inhalant from their body.
  • Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help address the underlying causes of inhalant abuse and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Support Groups: Participation in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, can provide a supportive community and encouragement during recovery.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms or co-occurring mental health conditions.
  • Aftercare: Continuing care and support are crucial for maintaining recovery, including ongoing therapy, regular check-ins, and relapse prevention strategies.

What Are the Dangers of Long-Term Inhalant Use?

Long-term inhalant use can have severe and lasting consequences on both physical and mental health. Some dangers of prolonged inhalant abuse include damage to the brain, liver, kidneys, and bone marrow. In addition, inhalants can cause heart problems, respiratory issues, and even sudden death. Other risks include memory loss, cognitive impairments, and psychiatric disorders. It is crucial to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with inhalant abuse to prevent these devastating effects.

In 2018, a 23-year-old man named John lost his life due to long-term inhalant use. He had been using inhalants as a cheap and easily accessible way to get high for several years. Unfortunately, his addiction took a toll on his health, resulting in severe organ damage. Despite numerous attempts to get clean, John was unable to overcome his addiction. His tragic story serves as a reminder of the dangers and potentially deadly consequences of long-term inhalant use.

How Can Inhalant Abuse Be Prevented?

Inhalant abuse can have serious consequences, so it’s crucial to take steps to prevent it. Here are some ways to prevent inhalant abuse:

  1. Education: Raise awareness about the dangers of inhalant abuse through school programs and community initiatives.
  2. Parental involvement: Parents should talk to their children about the risks of inhalant abuse and the importance of making healthy choices.
  3. Secure household products: Keep inhalable substances like cleaning products, paints, and solvents locked away and out of reach.
  4. Monitor internet usage: Be aware of what your child is searching for online and educate them about the dangers of inhalant abuse.
  5. Encourage alternative activities: Promote involvement in sports, clubs, and hobbies to keep children engaged and prevent boredom that may lead to experimentation with inhalants.

By implementing these preventive measures, we can create a safer environment for our youth and reduce the incidence of inhalant abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the common slang terms for inhalants and how are they used?

Some common slang terms for inhalants include “bold,” “laughing gas,” and “whippets.” People who use inhalants typically breathe in the fumes through their nose or mouth, using methods such as “sniffing,” “snorting,” “bagging,” or “huffing.”

2. What are the short-term effects of using inhalants?

Short-term effects include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, dizziness, and hallucinations. These effects are similar to alcohol intoxication and can also include initial excitement followed by drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness, and agitation.

3. What are the long-term effects of using inhalants?

Long-term effects can include liver and kidney damage, loss of coordination, delayed behavioral development, and brain damage. Using inhalants, even just once, can lead to compulsive use and mild withdrawal syndrome.

4. Are there any specific groups of people who are more likely to use inhalants?

Yes, inhalant use is most common among young kids and teens, who may try them before trying other substances because they are easier to obtain. A recent survey also found that inhalant users tend to initiate the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs at a younger age and have a higher lifetime prevalence of substance use disorders, including abuse of prescription drugs.

5. Can inhalants be found in everyday household items?

Yes, there are four main types of inhalants: solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, and nitrites. These substances are often easily accessible and can be found in the home or workplace, such as in deodorant spray, nail polish remover, whipped cream dispensers, vegetable oil sprays, and room-temperature aerosol cans.

6. What are some signs that someone may be using inhalants?

Signs that someone may be using inhalants include chemical odors on their breath or clothing, paint or other stains on their face or hands, and hidden containers or rags soaked in chemicals. Other physical and behavioral signs may include distorted speech, runny eyes, limb spasms, impaired functioning, depressed reflexes, giddy feelings, and loss of appetite.

Related Posts