Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content


Sad teen sitting on stairs

​​​What are they?

Inhalants are chemicals that can be breathed in. Most of these drugs depress the nervous system, causing effects much like alcohol. As a parent, it is vital to be aware of the dangers your kids may be exposed t​o. Listed below are four main categories of inhalants and ​examples of each:

Aerosols - Pressurized containers of hair sprays, deodorants, insecticides and paints
Gases - Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and ether fumes
Solvents - Glue, nail polish remover, rubber cement, cleaning fluids and shoe polish
Other Chemicals - Prescription drugs and household cleaners

What do they do?
According to the Bureau of At-Risk Youth's guide Drug Abuse Prevention: Inhalants, most inhalants cause such temporary sensations as lightheadedness, numbness and excitement. In addition, users may have hallucinations, indulge in reckless behavior, have delusions of grandeur, and suffer from exaggerated fear and anxiety. Inhalants frequently cause emotional depression and memory loss, too. Here are some other common effects of inhalants:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Impaired vision
  • Irregular and/or rapid heartbeat
  • Irritated eyes, mouth and nose
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Thirst and salivation

What are the long-term effects?

Using inhalants for any period of time can cause serious harm:

  • Brain damage
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Mood swings
  • Pale skin
  • Paranoia
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor memory