Learn About Inhalant Addiction and Treatment

Inhalant use by americansInhalant drugs, ranging from aerosol sprays to nitrous oxide, refer to any psychoactive substance that is consumed exclusively via inhalation. Solvents, medical anesthetics and alkyl nitrite-based compounds are among the most commonly abused substances that qualify as inhalants.

While these drugs are not as widely abused as other well-known narcotics, inhalant addiction is a real threat, and inhalant abuse is increasingly common among young people.

According to a national report on drug use produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 500,000 Americans of age 12 or older reported being current users of inhalant drugs.

Even more shocking: The American Association of Pediatrics reports that 20 percent of all eighth graders have experimented with an inhalant drug at least once.

Inhalant use is surprisingly common, emphasizing the need for additional education concerning inhalant addiction and treatment.

Solvents and Aerosols

Volatile solvents are liquids that turn to gas at room temperature. Because solvents are typically housed in places that are near room temperature, gaseous fumes are released almost constantly from their containers.

A long list of household and industrial cleaning products are volatile solvents. Likewise, aerosol sprays typically contain a solvent mixed with a gaseous propellant.

Commonly abused volatile solvent and aerosol products include:

  • Lighter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Butane
  • Hair spray
  • Felt-tip marker fluid
  • Propane
  • Glue
  • Spray paint


Gases with anesthetic, pain-relieving properties are among the most widely abused inhalants. The most ubiquitous of these chemicals is nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. Typically, users will inhale small containers of nitrous oxide gas, colloquially referred to as whippits, to induce a short-lived state of euphoria. The long-term abuse of anesthetic inhalants can lead to damage to brain cells and overall brain function.

Commonly abused anesthetics include:

  • Nitrous oxide
  • Ether
  • Chloroform


Stats on InhalantsAlkyl nitrites, better known as poppers, are a class of chemical compounds that share many similarities to traditional inhalants. They are volatile or gaseous at room temperature, making them easy to inhale. They can also be found in a number of household cleaning products.

However, nitrites differ from traditional inhalants in that they dilate blood vessels and act as a muscle relaxant, rather than directly affecting the central nervous system. Nitrites also differ from traditional inhalants because they are more regularly used in party scenes as a sexual enhancer.

Commonly abused volatile nitrites can be found in the following products:

  • Leather cleaners
  • Liquid aroma products
  • Room odorizers
  • Electronic head cleaners

When Inhalant Addiction Treatment Is Needed

The consequences of long-term inhalant abuse go beyond brain damage. Abusing solvents, nitrites and anesthetic gases like nitrous oxide can result in damage to the kidneys, bone marrow deterioration and hearing loss.

Even worse, those who abuse inhalants regularly expose themselves to developing a chemical dependency or addiction. In cases like these, quitting the habit comes with painful, disruptive withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hand tremors and even grand mal seizures.

Don’t let inhalant addiction destroy your life or the life of someone close to you. At The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village, we specialize in assisting those who are struggling with substance use disorder to start a new, drug-free life. Contact us at (866) 295-6003 if you have more questions about inhalant addiction and treatment.

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