Overview of inhaled drug abuse

Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that can produce psychoactive (thinking changes) effects. Young children and adolescents tend to abuse inhalants, partly because they are readily available and inexpensive. Although inadvertent inhalation of household products may occur, the abuse of inhalants or gasping is a deliberate act.

Street name

According to NIDA, each inhaler classification has its own slang or street name, including “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide), “sea bream” (pentyl nitrite), and “poppers” (pentyl nitrite and subnitrite). Butyl nitrate), “whippets” (nitrite) oxides, found in whipped cream dispensers), “daring” (nitrite) and “hurried” (nitrite).

What is an inhaler?

Inhalants are inhalable chemical vapors commonly found in ordinary household products that contain volatile solvents or aerosols. Inhalants are divided into four categories:

  • Volatile solvents: Volatile solvents are industrial, household, artistic or office supplies solvents or products containing solvents. They include paint thinners or removers, degreasers, dry cleaning fluids, gasoline, correction fluids, felt tip marking fluids, and electronic contact cleaners.
  • Aerosols: Aerosols are household aerosol propellants and related solvents, such as spray paint, hair or deodorant sprays, fabric protector sprays, aerosol computer cleaning products, and vegetable oil sprays.
  • Gas: These are gases used in household or commercial products, including butane lighters and propane tanks, whipped cream aerosols or dispensers (whippets), as well as refrigerant gases, medical anesthetic gases such as ether, chloroform, halothane And nitrous oxide (laughing gas)).
  • Nitrite: Organic nitrite is a volatile substance, including cyclohexyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and pentyl nitrite, commonly called “poppers”. Amyl nitrite is still used in certain medical procedures. Volatile nitrites are usually sold in brown vials labeled “video head cleaner”, “room deodorant”, “leather cleaner” or “liquid fragrance”.

How to use inhalants?

The inhalant is sniffed directly from the container, “sucked” out with a cloth soaked with the substance and placed close to the face, “bag” is sniffed out from a bag with a soaked cloth, or worn on hands, nails or clothes Users on the Internet inhale smoke in public without being noticed.

Who uses inhalers?

Young people may use inhalants instead of alcohol. Due to its addictive nature, many people continue to use it as they age. The first substance that many children experiment with are inhalants because they are cheap and easily available—usually found in the kitchen, laundry, or garage around the house.

For most drugs, the use of older age groups will increase.

Inhalants are the only substance that is used by young teenagers more often than older teenagers.

The elderly who use inhalants are usually chronic abusers. Studies have shown that chronic or long-term inhaler abusers are the most difficult to treat drug abuse patients.

What is the role of inhalants?

Most inhalants produce a rapid orgasm similar to alcoholism. If you inhale enough, almost all solvents and gases will cause anesthesia, loss of sensation, and even loss of consciousness.

Short-term hazard

  • Poisoning
  • Loss of consciousness
  • heart failure
  • asphyxia
  • Injuries to the mouth, throat, and lungs
  • Risk of death

Long-term hazard

  • Damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys
  • Hearing loss
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Visual impairment
  • power failure
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Bone marrow injury
  • Immune system damage
  • Risk of death

There are other dangerous effects.

sudden death

Even a healthy person can cause sudden olfactory death by inhaling it once. This is usually related to the abuse of butane, propane and chemicals in aerosols.

Inhalation and suffocation

High-concentration inhalants can also cause suffocation and death by displacing oxygen in the lungs and central nervous system, causing breathing to stop. Intentionally inhaling from a paper or plastic bag or in an enclosed area will greatly increase the chance of suffocation.

Are inhalers addictive?

Yes. Severe users may become addicted to inhalants and may suffer from cognitive impairment or other neurological dysfunctions, making it difficult to quit smoking. Over time, users will become tolerant of inhalants, which means they need more time to experience the “high” they have obtained from small amounts of inhalants in the past.


Ordinary users and severe users face the same risks of using inhalants. A UK study of 1,000 deaths due to use of inhalants found that 200 of them were first time users.