Physical and Psychological Effects of Solvents and Aerosols
Solvents and aerosols, also known as inhalants, are (typically) legal store bought products which are intended for cleaning, beauty care or household repair/improvements. Although they were never created for getting high, a small percentage of people misuse them (also known as huffing). These “drugs” have a detrimental impact on the brain and cognitive functioning. While they are often abused by adolescents and children on the streets, it is not uncommon for an adult to use solvents or aerosols; especially when they are unable to access their preferred drug of choice.
What are solvents and aerosols?
Hundreds of different solvents and aerosols produce intoxicating effects. Each of these carries different physical and psychological effects as well as, consequences. That said there is still no safe level of misusing. Four different categories for inhalant products exist; these are:
Solvents: Liquid or semi-liquid products which vaporize when left opened at room temperature. Their fumes are what produce the high. Some examples may include gasoline, glue, nail or shoe polish and paint thinner.
Aerosols: These are typically solvents mixed with propellant gas and stored in a bottle under pressure. Examples include spray paint, certain hair sprays, deodorant and air freshener.
Gases: These include medical grade anesthetics like nitrous oxide and ether as well as, household gases found in fire extinguishers.
Nitrates: This category is slightly different in that they don’t suppress the central nervous system. Rather, they act more like muscle relaxants and dilate blood vessels. Examples include “amyl, butyl and isobutyl nitrite (together known as alkyl nitrites or poppers)”. For the sake of our readers, this article will focus on the solvents and aerosols.
Immediate Effects after Using Solvents or Aerosols
In general, an inhalant abuser will use any substance they can get their hands on. However, there are people who have a “favorite” solvent or aerosol which they will go out of their way for. In Texas, the preferred inhalant is a local shoe shining spray.
The immediate effects of inhalants are similar to that of alcohol intoxication. However, they are significantly more rapid. The initial high decreases shortly after use and is followed by agitation, lightheadedness, lack of inhibition, confusion and drowsiness. With large or excessive amounts of inhalants, numbness, loss of sensations in the body and unconsciousness can occur.
Short Term Effects Associated with Huffing
When solvents or aerosols are abused, the user could experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, inability to move and difficulty breathing. They may also feel apathetic, have trouble making wise judgments and struggle to function in social situations. Higher doses can lead to days of confusion, delirium and hallucinations.
There are reports of accidental deaths occurring from huffing in unsafe environments such as on a rooftop or near water. Moreover, persistent huffing can cause unconsciousness and could lead to death from choking on vomit. When a bag is used repeatedly, there are risks of suffocation due to a lack of oxygen. Without seeking the help of a solvent or aerosol addiction rehab, these consequences will dramatically increase and lead to long term effects.
Long Term Psychological and Physical Effects
Unfortunately, there is a lack of research when it comes to long term implications related to huffing solvents or aerosols. What is known is that long term abuse can damage muscle tissue, the liver and kidneys. Due to strenuous activity on the heart, this vital organ can shut down causing heart failure and death. With years of huffing abuse, permanent brain damage may occur. This is especially in regards to how the brain controls movement and thought functioning. Depression, lack of emotions and feelings of suicide can result.
It’s important to note that many aerosols and solvents contain other harmful chemicals which, although may not produce a high, can cause serious health effects. These range from carbon monoxide poisoning, lead poisoning, bone marrow suppression, burns to the skin and cellular death.
Dependence, Addiction and Withdrawal
With regular huffing abuse, a tolerance can build in just a few weeks. The user will need to use more to achieve the same desired effects. However, within a few days of stopping, the tolerance will decrease. The evidence of aerosol and solvent addiction is limited, but it is generally accepted that it can occur. The real concern with huffing solvents and aerosols is the issue in which a user has a high probability of turning to stronger drugs like heroin. Alternatively, due to clouded thoughts and actions, there is a strong potential for engaging in risky behavior such as unprotected sex, prostitution and illegal activity.
Withdrawal happens when regular huffing has been discontinued. Symptoms could include shaking, sweating, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, nausea, emotional upheavals, depression and agitation.
Overcoming Addiction at an Inhalant Rehab Center
When a person is addicted to inhalants, a rehab treatment program should be considered. This is primarily because people who have chronically abused solvents and aerosols may have a variety of social and psychological problems which can be effectively addressed in a residential rehab setting.
At Serenity Thailand Rehab, our integrated team of professional addiction specialists knows the impact of inhalant abuse and other drugs. They possess a comprehensive understanding of physical, psychological and medical conditions which have not only affected a person during their use, but also those that may have contributed to the dependence.
If you or someone you know has an addiction to inhalants and would like to seek the help of a private rehab center in Thailand, please contact Serenity Rehab in Thailand today.