Inhalant abuse is a less common form of drug addiction. When it is compared to the widespread nature of opioids or alcohol use, the statistics do not match up, but it is an addiction that can occur. Consistent use of inhalants over extended periods can lead to physical and psychological dependence.
Inhalants can be found in your everyday household products, such as gases, household solvents, gasoline, and cleaning products. These chemicals are hazardous to humans, even in small amounts, which makes inhalant abuse all the more dangerous.
As dangerous as inhalant abuse can be on its own, the withdrawal symptoms produced by use can be life-threatening. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlights how single or occasional use of inhalants can produce fatal effects when the chemicals move from the lungs into the bloodstream. In short, inhalants can kill a person after just one use, which is known as sudden sniffing death syndrome.
As a parent, your worry may be consumed by alcohol, prescription drugs, or marijuana. Unfortunately, you must monitor your children for any signs of inhalant abuse. These drugs are used far more than you would expect, and that is likely due to easy access to inhalants. Below, we will discuss some of the common symptoms of inhalant withdrawal and more.
In most cases, a person must develop a severe physical dependence or addiction to inhalants to cause withdrawal. In some cases, the chemicals will be abused for months or years, which will contribute to the intensity someone can expect from inhalant withdrawal symptoms. These can include hallucinations or seizures.
Since several variations of inhalants exist, withdrawal symptoms will depend on the specific type that is being abused. Some of the most common symptoms one can expect from inhalant withdrawal include:
Most of these symptoms should subside in a few days as the cravings disappear. Unfortunately, however, it is possible that these turn into hallucinations of seizures, which will require intensive medical supervision to overcome safely.
As the withdrawal period progresses, you may experience other symptoms, which include:
Once you’ve successfully abstained from inhalants, the body will experience psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal until the chemicals in your body are balanced. The severity of your addiction, as well as the length of use, will determine the severity of these symptoms. In general, the longer inhalants are abused, the more difficult and dangerous you can expect the detox period to be. In the most severe cases, you can expect convulsions.
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The most common factors that will dictate the withdrawal process will include:
The acute withdrawal timeline will consist of:
This part of withdrawal is commonly viewed as the shortest stage of it. It is when users seek pleasure from inhaling chemicals from bags, containers, huff vapors, and continue using despite the inherent risks.
During this stage, withdrawal symptoms from inhalants will be severe once you’ve stopped using the substance. These symptoms can persist for up to a month, and in some cases, longer.
Acute symptoms may begin to subside at this point, but you can still expect to experience lasting effects for up to a week after the last use.
Unfortunately, the withdrawal process, when it relates to inhalants, can be agonizing. The physical and mental aspects of detox can be enough to push someone back into inhalant use. To prevent a relapse from occurring, addiction specialists strongly urge a person to detox at a professional treatment center. These centers provide medical professionals who will block your access to inhalants.
If you are struggling with inhalant addiction, you must start treatment immediately after you stop using. Currently, a tapering process does not exist, and since short-term adverse effects are involved, you must be in the presence of medical professionals. You will be given medication to ease the symptoms of nausea or sleeplessness. The first step in the process toward sobriety is medical detox. You will be assessed to determine the next level of care.
To overcome your dependence on inhalants, you need to follow through with the continuum of care. It requires a lot of strength to overcome, but committing yourself to a healthy life will improve all areas of your existence.
Most people who struggle with dependence to inhalants will be placed into residential treatment. It will allow them to focus on addressing their core needs and healing without distraction.
During this phase, therapies will teach you how to cope with triggers, and specialists will help you devise a relapse prevention plan. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with inhalant abuse, you must reach out for help today.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
Inhalants. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/inhalants.asp
Inhalant Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/15742-inhalant-abuse
About inhalants. (2002, February). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2794702/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). What are the short- and long-term effects of inhalant use? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/inhalants/what-are-short-long-term-effects-inhalant-use
American Society of Addiction Medicine. What are the ASAM Levels of Care? Retrieved from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/