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Club Drugs (cont.)

Inhalants

Inhalant abuse is also increasingly popular in adolescents and young adults. An inhalant is a vapor you breathe in. Of first-time inhalant users in 1998, 62% were 12-17 years of age. Inhalants may be liquid or gases.

  • Nitrous oxide: This is an inhalant used in whipped cream chargers and dispensed into balloons. Known as whippets, abusers inhale nitrous air through the balloon. Nitrous oxide has anesthetic effects and may give a high from breathing the low oxygen content in the balloon. Sudden death has been reported from breathing air with low oxygen content. Other dangers include producing air bubbles in the lungs and chest and rupture of the eardrums. Chronic abusers may develop nerve damage.
  • Hydrocarbons: Inhalants are often ingredients in household products such as paint cans and air fresheners. Hydrocarbons can be abused by huffing, bagging, or sniffing. Huffing involves inhaling vapors from a cloth soaked in hydrocarbons. Bagging is inhaling a hydrocarbon that was sprayed into a bag. Finally, sniffing is direct inhalation of the hydrocarbon from its source.
    • Hydrocarbons commonly produce euphoria, drunkenness, sedation, and low brain oxygen levels. They can cause brain damage as seen in abuse of toluene, a cheap inhalant that also causes muscle damage and dangerously low potassium levels.
    • Inhalants have also been associated with sudden death. This results from a startle reaction in which the heart becomes excessively sensitive to adrenaline because of hydrocarbon inhalant use.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/22/2014

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