What It Is

Inhalants are carbon-based substances which produce effects similar to alcohol or anesthetics when inhaled. Some users strengthen the effect by sniffing from inside a bag placed over the head, which is extremely dangerous. Inhalant misuse seems to be prevalent mainly among age 12 to 16.

A small proportion of those who try sniffing continue for several years, although most stop after a short period of time.

Street Names

Glues, Paints, Dry Cleaning Fluids, Aerosols and Propellant Gasses, Fuels, and Cigarette Lighter Gas

How It Is Taken

Usually by sniffing in a bag.

What It Does

Inhalant vapors are absorbed through the lungs and rapidly reach the brain. Breathing and heart rate are reduced. Repeated use by deep inhalation can result in an overdose which can cause disorientation, loss of control and finally unconsciousness, although inhalant users usually recover quickly from these effects. At small doses inhalants produce a drunken like stupor. At larger doses inhalants may cause hallucinations. The effects of the inhalant vapors occur quickly and disappear within a few minutes to any hour after sniffing is stopped.

Some inhalants products (particularly aerosol gases and cleaning fluids) can cause heart failure, especially during physically exertion while intoxicated. However, deaths are rare and most can be avoided even if inhalant misuse itself cannot be prevented.

With continuous use, tolerance to the effects of inhalants develops, but physical or psychological dependence is rare.

Medical Uses


Did you Know?

21.0% of 8th graders have tried inhalants.

18.3% of 10th graders have tried inhalants.

16.1% of 12th grades have tried inhalants.