Inhalants: Use, Effects, and Dangers

Inhalants refer to solvent chemicals and aerosols that people inhale to get high. The chemicals can be found in household products, such as gasses, glues, coolants, and paints. Inhalant are commonly used by younger people, who may be unable to obtain drugs and alcohol but have easy access to such products.

Although the types of chemicals that can be used are diverse, they all have two things common. First, the chemicals can be inhaled in gas form. And two, the chemicals produce similar feelings to alcohol and anesthetics.

Past national surveys found the highest amount of inhalant use was in those under 18-years-old. A survey in 2010 found that over 21.7 million American tried inhalants at least once.

How Do Inhalants Work

To use inhalants, people will soak a rag with the chemical or put chemicals into a cup or bag and inhale.

Inhalants are similar to a central nervous system depressant such as alcohol or sedatives and anesthetics. The effects of the chemicals is very similar to those of alcohol.

Once a person inhales or sniffs the fumes, blood levels peak quickly. As this happens, the person experiences disorientation and dizziness, some stimulation, followed by depression. With a higher dose a person may lose control of their muscles and coordination. Users may also experience delusions and hallucinations with any of the senses.

Inhalants Can Be Dangerous

The chemicals themselves that make up the inhalant drug group are toxic. These are often industrial chemicals that were never designed for human consumption. Many of these chemicals are highly flammable.

One British study analyzing 1,000 deaths from inhalants found that a fifth of those deaths were from first-time users. The deaths were caused in a variety of ways.

Inhalants have the ability to disrupt heart rhythms, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Huffing can lead to low oxygen levels, even leading to suffocation.

Abusers of inhalants may suffer from deficiencies with concentration, memory, and attention.

Long-term effects can result in damage to major organs, including lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and the nervous system.

Long-lasting damage to the brain has also been found. For example let’s look at one study of 24 abusers of toluene, a common chemical in glue. In that study, researches found 11 of those 24 had damage to the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls muscle movements. Other studies have found inhalant chemicals cause damage to the protective sheaths around nerve fibers in the brain and peripheral nervous system.

Accidents are also common after inhalant use. With loss of muscle control and coordination problems, users may have difficulty driving a vehicle while under the influence of inhalants.

Legal Issues with Inhalants

Inhalant chemicals are not illegal to possess. These chemicals are in many homes and stores. Use of the chemicals to get high is a misdemeanor in Michigan. Also, driving under the influence of inhalant chemicals is a misdemeanor as well.

Collection of Articles on Inhalants

ArborYpsi Law has a Collection of Article on Inhalant Legal Issues if you wish to learn more on the topic. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are dealing with a legal issue related to inhalant use.

Contact ArborYpsi Law

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 2750 Carpenter Rd #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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