How to Spot the Signs and Symptoms of Abusing Inhalants
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Signs of Inhalant Abuse and Addiction

Written By Legacy Healing Center - Mar 16 2021

Signs of Inhalant Abuse and Addiction

Table of Contents

Inhalant Abuse Is More Common Than You Might Think: Learn How to Recognize It

Some drugs are difficult to find, especially for young people with little money. Powerful opioid painkillers like Oxycontin are tightly controlled, requiring a valid prescription to obtain. Other drugs are highly illegal, including illicit substances like heroin and cocaine. However, obtaining inhalants is as easy as shopping at a grocery store.

Inhalants are cheap to buy, legal to purchase, and seen mainly as innocuous. Worse, these potentially dangerous substances may already be in your home, stored in garages, sheds, and even under the kitchen sink.


It may not be as well-known as other forms of substance use disorder, but the misuse of inhalants can lead to a genuine and deadly addiction. If you have a young person in your life, you may already live with someone addicted to inhalants, and recognizing the warning signs could literally mean the difference between life and death.

What Are Inhalants?

Every parent needs to recognize the dangers of inhalant addiction. Still, it is even more critical for concerned adults to understand what inhalants are, how they can be abused, and what makes them so dangerous.

Recognizing the signs of inhalant abuse starts with understanding the various forms inhalants take. Here are some of the common inhalants that are likely to be found in the average home, including the one you and your teenage son or daughter share:

  • Spray paints
  • Aerosol bug sprays
  • Paint thinner
  • Whipped cream canisters
  • Commercial degreasers
  • Gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • Glue
  • Rubber cement
  • Nail polish remover
  • Markers and marking pens
  • Deodorants
  • Aerosol hair spray
  • Fabric protection sprays

Now that you know how common inhalants are and the many forms they can take, it is time to take a household inventory. You can start by gathering up the various inhalants in your home, from the bug spray in the basement to the spray paint in the garage, and locking them away.

If locking those items up is not feasible, you can check each spray can and aerosol quantity and be ready to ask questions if you notice any signs of use you did not authorize. It pays to be nosy when dealing with potential inhalant abuse, so keep your eyes open and watch out for the warning signs.

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Who Is Most at Risk for Inhalant Abuse and Addiction?

While every young person is potentially at risk of inhalant abuse and inhalant addiction, some are more at risk than others. The child’s age plays a significant role in the dangers of inhalant abuse and addiction, with boys and girls aged 14 to 15 at the highest risk.

Keep in mind that this is just an average, and children as young as five or six have been known to abuse these standard and easily accessible household products. In some cases, these young children copy what they have seen their older brothers and sisters do, while others abuse inhalants out of curiosity.

The good news is that the risk of inhalant abuse and addiction typically goes down as children get older, with use declining for teenagers aged 17 to 19. Of course, that does not mean that inhalant addiction is not still a danger or that the teens in question may turn to other drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse and Addiction

If you want to protect the people you care about from the dangers of inhalant addiction, you can start by educating yourself and looking for the early warning signs. Here are some troubling symptoms of inhalant abuse no parent can afford to ignore:

  • Ulcers or sores around the mouth and lips
  • A chemical smell on the breath or the child’s clothes
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Decreased appetite and unexplained weight loss
  • Problems at school
  • Losing touch with old friends and making new ones
  • Slurred speech
  • Nosebleeds and runny noses
  • Feelings of tiredness

Dangers and Side Effects of Inhalant Abuse Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Even though they are legal, easily obtainable, and have legitimate uses, inhalants can be dangerous or even deadly when abused. If you suspect inhalant abuse in someone you care about, including the young person living under your roof, you need to act quickly before the damage becomes permanent. Here are just a few of the potential dangers and possible side effects that stem from inhalant addiction and other forms of abuse:

  • Possible brain damage
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Failure at school
  • Blurred vision

In addition to these potential dangers, inhalant abuse always carries the risk of sudden death. It can be difficult for users to control the amount of spray and other substances they are using, and accidental overdoses are not uncommon in this type of abuse.

Treatment for Inhalant Addiction

Even if you only suspect that someone you care about has been abusing household inhalants, you need to act quickly and start asking questions. Knowing what to look for will help a lot, as will reaching out to Legacy Healing Center for the advice, guidance, and expert drug treatment you and your loved one need. Call us today at 888.534.2295 to discover the best treatment methods for overcoming this common and potentially deadly addiction.

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