Inhalants Addiction Treatment

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Drug Treatment Guide

inhalants addiction treatmentWhat are Inhalants?

Inhalants are classified as substances that are highly volatile and flammable. They include a large variety of chemicals and analgesics, which produce mind-altering effects when inhaled, much like the effects produced by alcohol.

These substances are often common cleaning products that can be found in any home. Inhalants can also be called laughing gas, hippie crack, huff and whippets.

What are Considered Inhalants?

The misuse and abuse of inhalants pertains to the mishandling of gases, household cleaning products or solvents, and analgesics.

Few people would consider spray paint cans, cleaning fluids or glue to be drugs, but because of the volatile nature of these substances, they can be abused for their psychoactive properties. This problem is generally considered to be more of a concern with younger people than adults, but inhalants are not exclusively abused by teens.

Common inhalants include the following:

  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Glue
  • Paint thinner
  • Spray paint
  • Freon
  • Gasoline
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Chloroform
  • Computer duster spray
  • Lighter fluid
  • Butane
  • Ether

What are the Signs of Inhalant Abuse?

The high experienced from inhalant intoxication can be compared to that of the feeling one gets when drunk. It causes impaired judgement and decreased motor skills, but unlike alcohol, inhalants can also cause hallucinations. These effects are said to last for only a few minutes at a time. Those who use inhalants to get high usually experience euphoria, dizziness, feeling lightheaded, lose self-control, experience hallucinations and delayed or limited reflexes.

The effects of inhalant abuse include:

  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Bad smelling breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Appearance of being drunk
  • Anxiety
  • Sores around the mouth
  • Stains on clothes and/or face

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Inhalant Addictionnitrous-oxide

When someone repeatedly abuses inhalants, their brain becomes rewired, essentially making them dependent or addicted to the substance. Most cases of inhalant abuse are seen among teenagers, and some even go on to abuse more dangerous drugs. Inhalant abuse is not limited to teens, however. It affects all ages and demographics. With the easy access to these substances around the house, the risk of inhalant abuse is high.

Addiction Treatment Steps

Inhalant addiction treatment gives patients the tools they need to adjust their behavioral responses in order to avoid abusing these substances.

Assessment: The treatment process is started with an assessment period. The addict will speak with a treatment specialist to establish what their needs are as far as treatment goes. Every addict requires a personalized approach to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.

Detox: Cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be dealt with in the medical detox period to get the patient to a stable state so that treatment can begin.

Therapy: Once detox is completed, therapy can then begin. The patient receives individual therapy, group therapy, as well as alternative addiction treatment methods to help them along in their recovery process. Behavioral therapy is aimed at addressing problematic areas in the individual’s life that led them to become addicted to inhalants. It helps them learn new and healthier coping techniques, as well as adjust their negative thought patterns to more be more postie. 

Dual diagnosis treatment: Co-occurring mental disorders are also treated to ensure that the individual does not relapse.

Relapse prevention: During this phase of treatment the stages of relapse are explored so that the patient can identify the patterns of relapse before turning to drugs again. Techniques such as speaking to someone about issues that they are having are taught so that when the first stage of relapse begins, the recovering addict can get help.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Options

There are different ways of receiving treatment for an inhalant addiction. If the person needs to remain autonomous during their treatment that can last a month or longer, then outpatient programs are better suited. The patient will come in around five days every week for a few hours where they can be treated by professionals. School or work can continue during this period, but more is expected from the patient, such as staying away from negative influences that may cause them to relapse.

When there is a serious case of addiction and there is a danger of relapse, an inpatient program is a better option. The patient is not allowed to leave the rehab center. This keeps them away from negative influences and in an environment that is conducive to recovery. Nurses offer constant supervision and the facility is completely drug-free. While usually more expensive than outpatient programs, residential rehab is the most intensive and successful form of treatment for addiction.

Aftercare Services

The time after the recovering addict leaves rehab is important, as the risk of relapse is exceptionally high. A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that on average, 40 to 60 percent of people who finish treatment, relapse.

Resources like sober living homes, 12 step meetings, and other addiction aftercare resources can help recovering addicts stay on track once their stay at a rehab facility is complete. 


  1. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). What are inhalants? Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. Abuse, N. I. (2012, December 14). Inhalants. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  3. Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Last updated on July 19th, 2017 at 07:59 pm

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