Inhalants are one of the most used drugs among teens. Teens think they are not harmful, they see them around the house, they are cheap, easy to get and quick way to get the “buzz” going. Little do teens know that inhalants are far from being harmless and some may even cause very harmful effects that can be irreversible.
Inhalants are very dangerous because our lungs easily absorb chemicals; in fact, chemicals from inhalant get into the bloodstream very quickly. The high from inhalants comes very quickly, and lasts shortly. The effects are very similar to those of alcohol abuse. In some cases inhalants can cause hallucinations and delusions, the high is always short, it lasts a few minutes at most. But it can leave drowsiness for several hours.
The biggest issue with inhalants is that they contain several chemicals; some may leave the body in a few minutes while other may remain in the body for a very long time affecting the nervous system and the brain as they are absorbed by fatty tissues in our brain.
One of the fatty tissues that protects the brain and surrounds the neurons and protects them is myelin. Myelin can be damaged by inhalants and slow down the connection and communication between the brain and the nerves. If inhalants are used long term they can break down myelin permanently. This can cause serious muscle spasm and permanent damage to the nerves and the brain which leads to issue and problems with walking, bending and even talking.
In some cases inhalants can lead to brain damage caused by lack of oxygen that was prevented to reach the brain by the effects of the chemicals from the inhalants. This syndrome actually has a name, it is called brain hypoxia. The aftermath leads the person unable to concentrate and in more serious situations even unable to learn new things and create new memories, leaving our brain almost useless.
A myth among teens that use inhalants is that are not addictive, they can be. Long term teen inhalant use can lead to compulsive need for more inhalants. We are not talking about the same addiction that heroin addicts have, but a milder form, in the end, addiction is addiction and effects of inhalants are very harmful. The problems caused by inhalants don’t just affect the brain; they can also leave serious effects on the heart of the user, kidneys and liver. They can also lead to aplastic anemia, which is when our body is unable to produce blood cells.
They are very easy to get but the dangers are great as with highly addictive drugs, which is why parents need to take special care about where they keep certain types of medication in the house, as this is the first place where teens get their drugs. Treatment is the same as with most drugs, the most effective is the talk therapy, but it needs to be caught on time or the effects of the inhalants may cause permanent damage.