Inhalant Addiction Treatment in Long Island

Inhalant addiction is one of the most dangerous forms of addiction not only because of its severe health effects and risk of overdose, but also because it can hide in plain sight.

Unlike the stereotypical image of drugs sold illegally or heavily regulated, most inhalants are widely available as household products and are easy to obtain.

Since the first step to overcoming a problem is to find out more about it, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about inhalant addiction, including its effects, tell-tale signs, and best treatment methods. Let’s dive right in!

What Are Inhalants?

Inhalants are a broad category of everyday household products and industrial chemicals that exist as gasses or produce vapors at room temperature.

These volatile vapors or gasses typically have psychoactive properties with mind-altering effects.

Inhalants usually have a distinct purpose or function but are purposely inhaled with the intention of getting high due to their intoxicating effects. The process of inhaling these chemicals is commonly known as “huffing”.

First-time users often start by inhaling these chemicals directly, but as addiction develops they concentrate them in plastic bags to increase their potency.

Why Are Inhalants So Addictive?

Inhalants may seem harmless at first glance because they’re readily available household products.

However, their euphoric highs are quick, intense, and short-lived, which reinforces continuous use and speeds up the addiction cycle.

First, they’re rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, leading to almost immediate effects. This quick rush can be quite appealing to users seeking an escape or a thrill.

The quick access to the central nervous system reinforces the desire to repeat the experience, leading to cravings when the drug effects wear off. As the body develops tolerance to effects, a dose increase becomes necessary to get high.

This continuous cycle quickly leads to inhalant withdrawal symptoms upon ceasing to use the drug, which causes compulsive use and addiction.

Is Inhalant Use Common In New York?

Inhalant abuse is an epidemic in the making, as more and more young adults report using the drug every year.

In fact, research reports that the number of individuals aged 12 or older who try inhalants for the first time every year is over 750,000, with over 22 million Americans using the drug in 2011 alone!

Another point of concern here is that inhalants are readily available and relatively cheap. This easy access makes them extra dangerous for adolescents and young adults who may be more vulnerable to experimentation and substance abuse.

Moreover, several studies show that inhalants are a potential gateway drug, meaning they could be the door to experimenting with even more dangerous forms of drug use and developing substance use disorder.

That being said, it’s important to know that inhalant addiction is not exclusive to adolescents and young people, as it can affect people at any age.

Effects of Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant addiction can have a wide range of negative consequences, impacting both the user’s physical and mental health and ranging from short-term symptoms to long-term complications. Here’s a quick look at some of the side effects:

Short-Term Effects

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, slurred speech, and impaired coordination
  • Irritation of the lungs and airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and even suffocation.
  • Headaches, nausea, and vomiting following heavy use
  • Restlessness and excitability
  • Skin irritation

Long Term Effects

  • Permanent brain damage which results in seizures and various problems with learning, memory, concentration, and decision-making.
  • Some types of inhalants can cause nerve damage that leads to hearing and vision loss.
  • Damage to vital organs and body parts like the liver, kidneys, and bone marrow, leads to various health problems.
  • Worsening of existing mental health conditions and contributing to the development of new ones, especially anxiety or depression.
  • Severe malnutrition and weight loss

How to Identify Inhalants Use

Inhalant abuse can be challenging to detect because the effects are often short-lived and involve household and regular items.

However, as dependence develops, the problem becomes more and more obvious. Here are some behavioral signs and physical symptoms that could help you detect the problem early on:

  • Finding empty cans of spray paint, aerosol containers, solvent containers, or other inhalant products.
  • Appearance of the previously mentioned short or long-term effects of inhalant use
  • Finding rags, towels, or cloths soaked with aromatic volatile liquids.
  • Sores around the nostrils due to chemical burns
  • Sudden change in behaviors including abandoning old hobbies and interests.
  • Decline in academic and professional performance.
  • Changes in social circles, especially when accompanied by secrecy
  • Financial problems and resorting to stealing
  • Puffy or reddish eyes with a runny nose
  • Increased aggression and irritability

What Are the Most Commonly Abused Inhalants?

Inhalants come in a wide variety of shapes and forms, with new items occasionally added to the list due to experimentation.

To help you identify this addiction, the following list will include some of the most popular categories, examples, and types of inhalants.

Volatile Solvents

These liquids readily turn into gas at room temperature and are found in many household products, especially ones with strong aromatic scents, such as:

  • Paint thinners
  • Nail polish remover
  • Correction fluid
  • Felt-tip marker ink
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Glue
  • Gasoline
  • Degreasers
  • Rubber cement
  • Lighter fluid
  • Propane tanks

Aerosol Sprays

These contain propellants and solvents that can produce intoxicating vapors. Common examples include:

  • Spray paint
  • Deodorant
  • Hair spray
  • Fabric protector spray


These chemicals are commonly known as “poppers”. Nitrite salts are mainly used as vasodilators and can produce a brief high when abused through inhaling. They mainly include:

  • Amyl nitrite
  • Butyl nitrite


Various gasses can also be used to induce a euphoric high. The most common examples here include:

  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) from whipped cream dispensers, often called “whippets”.
  • Gaseous anesthetics
  • Butane lighters
  • Chloroform
  • Halothane

Inhalants Addiction Treatment Options and Approaches

Treating inhalant addiction is challenging but not impossible. Here are some of the most successful approaches while tackling this problem:

Medical Detoxification

The initial stage of treatment often involves detoxification, where the body eliminates the remaining inhalants from the system.

This is usually an inpatient treatment approach, so it’s done in a medically supervised treatment center, especially if the user experiences severe withdrawal symptoms.

In cases where the addiction is caught early and isn’t severe, patients may be able to receive outpatient care, allowing them to return home daily after medical care.

Individual Therapy

Individual counseling sessions allow patients to explore the underlying reasons for their inhalant use and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and triggers.

This usually follows evidence-based approaches like Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with their addiction.

Group Therapy

Connecting with others who understand the challenges of inhalant addiction can be a powerful source of support.

That is why support groups and 12-step programs are often recommended alongside individual therapy for maximum effectiveness during treatment.

Post-Recovery Aftercare

Aftercare programs provide ongoing support and guidance to help individuals maintain their abstinence and avoid relapse.

These programs may include various approaches, including continued therapy and holistic approaches that focus on recovered individuals’ well-being, such as meditation, yoga, and physical exercise.

Final Thoughts

This marks the end of today’s guide which walks you through everything you need to know about inhalant addiction.

As you can see, this type of substance abuse is perfectly treatable with the help of a qualified healthcare professional and a personalized treatment plan.

If you or a loved one is struggling with this type of addiction, contact Long Island Treatment Center immediately to schedule an appointment and start your recovery journey right away!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center