Signs of Abuse
Understanding the signs of abuse is crucial for early intervention and saving lives. Familiarize yourself with these signs.
Inhaled chemicals are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and distributed quickly to the brain and other organs. Different inhalants have different effects. Within minutes, the user experiences feelings of intoxication and may become dizzy, have headaches, abdominal pain, limb spasms, lack of coordination, loss of control, hallucinations, and impaired judgment.
Worse, the user can potentially die from a condition known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, which occurs the first time a chemical is inhaled.
Long-term inhalant users generally suffer from muscle weakness, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, depression, liver or kidney damage, and central nervous system (including brain) damage. The dangers are real, the side effects are severe, and the high is not worth risking your life.
Behavioral Signs of Inhalant Abuse
- Painting fingernails with magic markers or correction fluid
- Sitting with a pen or marker by the nose
- Constantly smelling clothing sleeves
- Showing paint or stain marks on face, fingers, or clothing
- Having numerous butane lighters and refills in room, backpack, or locker
- Hiding rags, clothes, or empty containers of the potentially abused products in closets, under the bed, in garage, etc.
Symptoms of Inhalant Abuse
- Drunk, dazed, or dizzy appearance
- Slurred or disoriented speech
- Uncoordinated physical gestures
- Red or runny eyes and nose
- Spots and/or sores around the mouth
- Unusual breath odor or chemical odor on clothing
- Signs of paint or other products where they wouldn’t normally be, such as on face, lips, nose, or fingers
- Nausea and/or loss of appetite
- Chronic inhalant abusers may exhibit symptoms such as hallucinations, anxiety, excitability, irritability, restlessness or anger.
Talking to Your Child/Teen
- Ask your child/teen if he or she knows about inhalant abuse. Has he or she witnessed other kids abusing these products?
- Reinforce resistance to peer pressure and provide your child/teen with ways to say no, i.e.“That’s not for me” or “No thanks, that stuff can be really dangerous.”
- Set your expectations and be clear. Let your child/teen know where you stand on inhalant abuse and how you would feel if you found out he or she were doing it. Emphasize that unsafe actions and risky behavior have serious consequences.
- Have more than one conversation about inhalant abuse: these talks shouldn’t be one and done. Long conversations are not needed; 60 second chats regularly will reiterate the risks and expectations to your child/teen
- More Tips
In Case of an Emergency
- First, stay calm. Do not excite or argue with the abuser while they are under the influence. This may trigger the heart rate to increase, causing cardiac arrest.
- If the person is unconscious or not breathing - call for help immediately. CPR should be administered until help arrives.
- If the person is conscious, keep them calm and in a well-ventilated area.
- Do not leave the person alone.
A helpful way to remember the warning signs of inhalant abuse:
Hidden, chemical-soaked rags or clothes
Eyes and nose red and runny
Loss of appetite or nausea
Paint or chemical stains on face or fingers
Know what language children and teens use to talk about inhalant abuse.
|Aimies||Amphetamine; amyl nitrite|
|Aroma of men||Isobutyl nitrite|
|Bang||Inhalants; to inject a drug|
|Bolt||Amphetamine; isobutyl nitrite|
|Bullet||Isobutyl nitrite; inhalants|
|Buzz Bomb||Nitrous oxide|
|Climax||Crack; heroin, isobutyl nitrite; inhalants|
|Gluey||One who sniffs or inhales glue|
|Hardware||Isobutyl nitrite; inhalants|
|Honey oil||Ketamine; inhalants|
|Laughing gas||Nitrous oxide|
|Poor man’s pot||Inhalants|
|Poppers||Isobutyl nitrite; amyl nitrite|
|Quicksilver||Isobutyl nitrite; inhalants|
|Rush||Cocaine; isobutyl nitrite; inhalants|
|Rush Snappers||Isobutyl nitrite|
|Shoot the breeze||Nitrous oxide|
|Snotballs||Rubber cement rolled into balls, burned, and the fumes are inhaled|
|Texas shoe shine||Inhalants|
|Thrust||Isobutyl intrite; inhalants|
|Tolly||Toluene – chemical contained in many inhalants|
|Toncho||Octane booster that is inhaled|
|Whiteout||Inhalants; isobutyl nitrite|