What Causes Addiction and Inhalant Misuse

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Inhalant Misuse

17 March, 2018

Many unlawful drugs can be inhaled ranging from marijuana to meth and cocaine. Though these drugs are harmful, they’re also mostly illegal, costly, and usually difficult to find – particularly for younger people.

Less problematic to get hold of and purchase, are a variety of basic products which produce vapours. Once breathed in, they cause psychoactive (or mind-altering) actions. These products and their chemical vapours are called inhalants. They produce a number of effects that can be unpredictable, dangerous or even fatal – sometimes even during the very first use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that over 20 million Americans have experimented with inhalants at least once in their lives. These drugs can seem especially attractive to the younger generation. The Monitoring the Future (MTF) study of 2014 found that almost 6% of 5th graders had tried inhalants in 2013. These figures appear to decrease as teenagers “age out” of inhalant misuse because only around 2% of 12th graders misused them in the equivalent year because they perhaps progressed to a different intoxicant. Inhalants are frequently mooted as “gateway” substances, but this is difficult to measure with certainty. Misusers of inhalants frequently start out at a formative age, as almost 60% of substance abusers begin earlier than 9th grade, as released in Addiction Science and Clinical Practice.

Types of Inhalants and Techniques for Misuse:

Inhalants commonly belong to four primary classes that include a mixed bag of home products. These categories and products include:

Solvents: Lighter fluids, petrol, paint thinners, nail varnishes, nail varnish removers, glue, Magic Marker liquid, rubber cement, and dry-cleaning fluids.

Spray cans: Spray paint, spray cooking oil, hair and deodorant atomizers, PC cleaner, and material protector sprays.

Gases: Found in butane lighters, iceboxes, propane tanks, aerosol whipped cream cans (whippets) and medical anaesthetic agents such as nitrous oxide.

Nitrates: Amyl nitrate (poppers) commercialized as a video recording head cleansing agent, room deodorizer, leather cleaner, or liquid fragrances.

These inhalants are abused using many different methods that include:

  • Sniffing or huffing the fumes straight off
  • Pouring or spraying the fumes into a bag and then breathing them in them (bagging)
  • Spraying the aerosol can administer fumes straight into the nostril or mouth
  • Dowsing a cloth in the substance and then breathing it in
  • Inhaling laughing gas from a balloon.

The “high” that comes along is reasonably rapid and is broadly speaking, comparatively transient.  This can, unfortunately, lead to high levels of abuse quite rapidly as the sufferer attempts to prolong the high.

Risks from Repetitive Usage:

Several inhalants stifle the CNS (Central Nervous System) in a similar way alcohol does and the inebriation may also mimic that of drinking. This includes symptoms like slurred or unintelligible speech, loss of coordination, retarded reflexes, giddiness, and feeling “high” or happy.  Inhalants can also cause hallucinations and delusions in addition to a light-headed sensation. Frequent use can contribute to poor impulse control and depressed inhibitions which could lead to potentially hazardous conduct and behaviour.

Nitrates are dissimilar in a way that they expand and decompress blood vessels. They are commonly used as sexual enhancers and can be identified through enhanced sexual desire and dangerous or risky sexual activity.

Other signs of drug abuse to keep an eye on if you suspect inhalant misuse include:

  • Chemical odour in breath or on clothes
  • Paint or strange marks on hands, garments, or face
  • Painting fingernails with markers or correctional fluid
  • Concealing rags in washing or around a room
  • Having a collection of butane lighters particularly if the person does not smoke
  • Red or a runny nose
  • Reduced appetite
  • Groggy appearance
  • Sores close to the mouth
  • Unusual amounts of empty spray cans
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Tiredness or alterations in sleep patterns

You might detect changes in personality or extremes of mood related to inhalant misuse that are out of character. Drug abuse could likewise lead to withdrawal from social situations, difficulties with interpersonal and/or family relationships, and a sudden loss of enjoyment or involvement in activities that the addict might have previously loved. Be aware that a drop-in performance at school or work might as well be an indicator of substance abuse or addiction.

Treatment Alternatives:

The average age of the first-time misuse of inhalants for Americans is 13, as stated in American Family Physician Journal. Education about the risks of inhalant abuse is a useful and effective first resort for prevention. Inhalant abuse should never be brushed off and if you do suspect misuse or a dependency, you should immediately seek professional advice from an addiction treatment centre.

The consequences of inhalant abuse may be reversed with abstention and better lifestyle choices. Psychotherapy and positive treatment techniques presently provide the most effective success rates for total recovery and are usually achieved by attending an addiction treatment centre.

Behavioural therapies can aid in ascertaining the root cause of the abuse and which environmental, emotional, or cultural stressors that exist within day-to-day life that are acting as catalysts for unsafe behaviours such as inhaling solvents and aerosols.

Once these triggers are identified, positive life skills and coping mechanisms are taught, which equip the sufferers with new strategies to handle stress as it occurs in their regular life. Risky thought patterns and conducts are identified and altered, and self-respect and confidence are boosted. Peer groups and support from trained professionals create a risk-free oasis where challenging emotions are shared and can be empathised within a non-threatening environment.

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