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How Are Inhalants Used?

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Updated March 27, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: How Are Inhalants Used?
Answer: Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs causing an almost instant high.

Some of the ways that inhalants are used include:

Sniffing or snorting vapors from inhalant containers.

Spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth.

Bagging is the practice of inhaling fumes from chemicals sprayed or placed in a plastic or paper bag.

Huffing from a rag soaked in inhalants and stuffed into the mouth.

Inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide.

Regardless of which of the above methods are used, inhalants produce intoxicating effects within seconds of inhalation. Users can experience slurred speech, uncoordinated movements, euphoria, dizziness, lightheadedness, hallucinations and delusions.

One of the dangers of inhalant abuse lies in the fact that the high lasts for only a few minutes, prompting users to inhale over and over to try to maintain the feeling. If repeated too often, inhaling can cause a loss of consciousness and possibly death.

Inhalant users report feeling less inhibited and less in control. Heavy users will feel sleepy for several hours afterward and experience lingering headaches.

Back to: Inhalants FAQ

Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Inhalants." Research Report Series Updated July 2012

The Partnership at DrugFree.org. "Inhalants." Drug Guide. Accessed March 2014.

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