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Inhalants are substances or fumes from certain products like spray paints, glues and markers that are sniffed to cause a high. Sniffing from an open container or breathing fumes from chemical-soaked rags are common methods of inhalant abuse.

Inhalant abuse increases the chance of death due to suffocation or abnormal heart rhythm called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This may happen during any attempt to abuse inhalants. Chronic inhalant abuse can cause long term health issues such as poor memory, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety, and personality changes.

Some physical warning signs of inhalant abuse include:

  • Loss of appetite, red eyes or runny nose
  • Dizziness or acting intoxicated
  • Sores around the nose or mouth
  • Chemical odors on clothing or breath
  • Paint stains on face and hands
  • Large number of empty aerosol cans

Some personality changes may include:

  • Noticeable difference in eating and sleeping habits
  • loss of interest in school or work
  • negative attitudes toward school, family, and friends
  • always seem tired or lethargic

 For more information about inhalants, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site with questions about inhalants.

Last Updated on 12/17/2019