Understanding Inhalant Dependence

Inhalant use was popular among young teens back in the 1960s. The most popular form of inhalant activity was "glue sniffing". Since then, there have been a number of substances that have been used as inhalants.

Causes of inhalant dependence

Apart from using them as experiments, inhalant abuse is associated with a number of problems that may be influenced by the family and other social factors.

Who uses inhalants?

As shocking as it sounds, people who use inhalants are teens and school-age children. These kids usually use inhalants as experiments.

Commonly-used inhalants

Since the 1960s, there are many inhalants that have become popular. Some of them include:

  • Aerosols for deodorants or hair sprays
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Gasoline
  • Liquid typewriter correction fluid
  • Shoe polish
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Lighter fluid
  • Pain solvents
  • Model glue
  • Spray paints

Boys are more likely to use gasoline or nitrous oxide. Girls opt for glue, spray paints, correction fluid and aerosol spray.

How inhalants are used?

Inhalants are poured into a plastic bag and breathed in. Another way is to soak a rag with inhalant and breathe it in. The respiratory system absorbs the drug. An altered mental state follows within 5-15 minutes.

Physiological effects of inhalants

Some of the physical effects of inhalants include: brain damage, convulsions, liver and/or kidney damage, nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) and sudden death.

Social repercussions

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that inhalant use among 12-13 year olds is a marker for substance abuse and delinquent behavior in the future.

According to a 2002 and 2003 data of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, kids aged 12-13 were six times more likely to have stolen or tried to steal items worth more than $50.

The data also showed that people aged 18-49 who used inhalants were classified with drug dependence or abuse and/or alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year.


The NIDA-funded 2007 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 8.3% of 8th graders, 6.6% of 10th graders, and 3.7% of 12th graders had abused inhalants at least once in the year prior to being surveyed.




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