https://adf.org.au/drug-f... Last published: November 10, 2021 What are inhalants? Inhalants are common household, industrial and medical products that produce vapours, which some people inhale (breathe in) to make them feel intoxicated or high.1 There are many different types of inhalants and they all have different risks and effects. Other names Glue, gas, gasoline, sniff, huff, chroming, poppers. How are Inhalants used? Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth. They may be sprayed into a plastic bag, poured into a bottle or soaked onto a cloth or sleeve before being inhaled. Sometimes they are inhaled directly from the container or are sprayed directly into the mouth or nose. This method is very dangerous because it can cause suffocation.2 Inhalants: How Drugs Affect You Inhalants: How drugs affect you (bundle of 50) Pamphlets $39.95 (inc. GST) View in ADF Shop Effects of inhalants There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug. Inhalants affect everyone differently, based on: size, weight and health whether the person is used to taking it whether other drugs are taken around the same time the amount taken the strength of the drug amount of fresh air breathed while sniffing amount of physical activity before and after sniffing. Sniffing can cause: intoxication nausea headaches injuries delirium seizures pneumonia from inhaling vomit dependence brain damage coma abnormal heart rhythm sudden death asphyxiation (if using a plastic bag).3 Sniffing is always risky, but some situations make it even more dangerous: sniffing in an enclosed space or indoors running or doing other physical activity after sniffing (could cause death due to cardiac sensitisation) mixing sniffing with other drugs, including prescribed medication and illicit substances sniffing when the person has other health problems.3, 4 Overdose If you inhale a substance many times or use a particularly strong inhalant, you could overdose. Call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000) if you have any of these symptoms (ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police): nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea irregular heartbeat chest pain hallucinations blackout, seizures and coma.1,4 Sudden sniffing death Inhaling certain substances has been known to cause sudden death. It is believed that chemicals in these products can cause heart failure, particularly if the person is stressed or does heavy exercise after inhaling. However, this is very rare.3, 4 Low aromatic fuels Unleaded petrol has been replaced by low aromatic fuels such as BP’s Opal fuel in some rural and remote communities in Australia. Sniffing low aromatic fuels does not produce a high, but can still cause damage to a person’s health including death.6 See low aromatic fuels. Coming down In the days after inhalant use, you may experience: headache nausea dizziness drowsiness mental numbness.1 Long-term effects Regular use of inhalants may eventually cause: irritability and depression memory loss reduced attention span and ability to think clearly pimples around the mouth and lips pale appearance tremors weight loss reduced growth potential (height) tiredness excessive thirst loss of sense of smell and hearing problems with blood production, which may result in anaemia, irregular heartbeat, heart muscle damage chest pain and angina indigestion and stomach ulcers liver and kidney damage needing to use more to get the same effect dependence on inhalants financial, work and social problems.1,4,6 Most of these long-term effects can be reversed if use is stopped. However, some inhalants can cause permanent damage.5 Some of the chemicals in inhalants can build up in the body and damage the stomach, intestines, brain, nervous system, kidneys and liver.1 Inhalants and Mental Health Regular inhalant use is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders and problems with other drugs and/or alcohol.3 This doesn’t necessarily mean that inhalants cause these problems, but the use of inhalants can bring on these issues or make them worse. People who use inhalants are also more likely to experience stressful events such as having problems at school, at home or at work.3 Tolerance and dependence People who regularly use inhalants can quickly become dependent on them. People who are dependent on inhalants might find that using them becomes far more important than other things in their lives, such as work, sport, socialising or study.3 They may also develop a tolerance to it, which means they need to take larger amounts of inhalants to get the same effect.3 Using inhalants with other drugs The effects of taking inhalants with other drugs – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous. Inhalants + alcohol, benzodiazepines or opioids: enormous strain on the body, and can affect breathing rate and may increase the risk of losing consciousness or suffocating.3, 4 Withdrawal Giving up inhalants after using them for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without them. Withdrawal symptoms usually start 24-48 hours after the last use, and may last for 2 to 5 days.5 These symptoms can include: hangover headache, nausea and stomach pain tiredness, shakiness, tremors cramps hallucinations and visual disorders, such as seeing spots.4 Path2Help Not sure what you are looking for? Try our intuitive Path2Help tool and be matched with support information and services tailored to you. Image of a woman walking through a maze Getting help If your use of inhalants is affecting your health, family, relationships, work, school, financial or other life situations, you can find help and support. Call 1300 85 85 84 to speak to a real person and get answers to your questions as well as advice on practical ‘next steps’. Path2Help Not sure what you are looking for? Try our intuitive Path2Help tool and be matched with support information and services tailored to you. Inhalants and the law Inhalants statistics References Effects abnormal heart rhythm, asphyxiation, brain damage, delirium, dependence, headache, intoxication, nausea, seizures, sudden death AKA chroming, gas, gasoline, glue, huff, poppers, sniff
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