Other Drugs


What are inhalants?

Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce mind-altering effects. People who use inhalants breathe in the fumes through their nose or mouth, usually by “sniffing,” “snorting,” “bagging,” or “huffing.” Inhalants fall into four categories:

  • Nitrites: room odorizers, video head cleaner, leather cleaner, or liquid aromas.
  • Gases: nitrous oxide, ether, chloroform, and gases from household products such as propane tanks, whipped cream dispensers (whippets) and butane lighters.
  • Solvents: paint thinners, glues, correction fluid, lighter fluid, electronic contact cleaners, felt-tip marker fluid, dry cleaning fluid and gasoline.
  • Aerosols: spray paints, hair or deodorant sprays, aerosol computer cleaning products and vegetable oil sprays.

Although the high that inhalants produce usually lasts just a few minutes, people often try to make it last by continuing to inhale again and again over several hours.


Short term effects

Most inhalants affect the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Short-term effects are similar to sedatives and include:

  • slurred or distorted speech-lack of coordination (control of body movement)
  • euphoria (feeling "high")
  • dizziness

People may also feel light-headed or have hallucinations (images/sensations that seem real but aren't) or delusions (false beliefs). With repeated inhalations, many people feel less self-conscious and less in control. Some may start vomiting, feel drowsy for several hours, or have a headache that lasts a while.


Long term effects

Long-term effects of inhalant use may include:

  • Liver, kidney or bone marrow damage
  • Deafness
  • Loss of motor coordination, spasms and convulsions
  • Delayed behavioral development
  • Brain Damage
  • Coma
  • Death- Yes, a person can overdose on inhalants. An overdose occurs when a person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. In fact, a British study of 1,000 deaths from inhalant use found that 200 of the deaths occurred in first-time users.

How do I help a friend who's having trouble with drugs or alcohol?

If you are concerned about a friend's drug or alcohol use, this page contains information about different ways to help them. 


If you or a friend are having trouble with drugs or alcohol, or just have questions, there is help available.

Related links

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition  
The FAQ section includes statistics on inhalant use, damage to the body and brain and how to help someone in a crisis. Information is also provided in Spanish.

National Institute of Drug Abuse     
NIDA provides research reports, answers commonly-asked questions and gives related links.

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