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Drug-Free Workplace Advisor
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Understanding Addiction
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Specific Drugs of Abuse
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Inhalants

Inhalants are mood-altering substances that are voluntarily inhaled. Most substances used are commercial and household products, such as solvents and aerosols, which are easily obtained and are not harmful, if used for the purpose intended and as directed. Because they are common products, inhalants often are a young person’s first attempt at “getting high”.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF USE

Inhaling solvents allows the substance to reach the bloodstream very quickly. The immediate negative effects of inhalants include:

  • nausea
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • nosebleeds
  • fatigue
  • poor coordination
  • loss of appetite

Solvents and aerosol sprays also may decrease heart and respiratory rates. Amyl and Butyl Nitrite cause rapid pulse, headaches and involuntary passing of urine and feces.

Inhalants can severely impair judgment and driving ability. They also cause severe disorientation, visual distortion and confusion.

HEALTH EFFECTS

  • hepatitis
  • brain damage
  • debilitating effects on the central nervous system
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • muscle fatigue
  • permanent damage to the nervous system

There is evidence that tolerance to the effects of inhalants develops with continued use so, users need to increase use to obtain the same high. Studies have shown that dependence on inhalants continues even when the user goes on to use other drugs.

Deeply inhaling the vapors, or using large amounts over a short time, may result in disorientation, violent behavior, unconsciousness or death. High concentrations of inhalants can cause suffocation by displacing the oxygen in the lungs or depressing the central nervous system to the point that breathing stops.

Inhalants include: Nitrous Oxide, laughing gas, propellant aerosol cans, Amyl Nitrite, poppers, snappers in ampules, Butyl Nitrite, rush, bullet, climax, aerosol sprays, aerosol paint cans, containers of cleaning fluid, gasoline, glue and paint thinner.

WORKPLACE ISSUES

  • Inhalants can severely impair judgment and driving ability.
  • They also cause severe disorientation, visual distortion and confusion.
  • Some such products may be available in the workplace.
 

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