Inhalants are substances whose chemical vapors can be intentionally inhaled to produce psychoactive effects. These are used by a variety of individuals, usually adolescents. According to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,

4.4% of youth ages 12-17 used inhalants in the past year, compared to 0.5% of adults. Inhalants are often found in legal and easily obtained products.

Inhalants are generally classified into four different groups:

1. Volatile solvents, which include glue, paint thinner, and gasoline. The street names for these are air blast, discorama, hippie crack, moon gas, oz and poor man's pot.

2. Aerosols, which include hair spray and spray paint.

3. Gases, which include nitrous oxide and ether. Nitrous oxide is known as laughing gas or whippets.

4. Nitrites, which include amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites.


The instant, short-lived high produced after directly inhaling these substances (called huffing) produce an instant, short-lived euphoria, along with disinhibition, impaired judgment, slurred speech, lethargy, nervous system depression, and, in extreme cases, unconsciousness.

Prolonged use may result in neurological impairment and damage to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Death may be the result, usually from heart failure, but can also be the result of asphyxiation, suffocation, choking, or behavioral toxicity (CESAR, 2004).

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