Inhalant Use Among Adolescents


This article examines the alarming number of adolescents misusing and abusing household products, reasons for abuse and prevention.

The abuse of both licit and illicit drugs is prevalent among a broad range of ages, races and socio-economic status. When an individual uses drugs to achieve psychoactive effects it is often with the intent of escaping negative feelings caused by stress, depression or anxiety.

Reasons for Use

Psychoactive drugs can provide the user with episodes of euphoria which abet the user in escaping their problems quickly, being that most of these drugs produce effects almost instantaneously. However, the euphoria is not long-lasting and the side effects of these drugs are detrimental to health and wellness, leaving the abuser with more negativity and stress than they were originally attempting to alleviate.


Susceptibility to experimentation with drugs and alcohol is prevalent during adolescence, being that it is a time in one’s life often characterized by peer pressure, self-esteem issues and trial-and-error attempts to find one’s identity. Inhalants are commonly abused by pre-teens and teens, often because they are legal, affordable and the abusers are often unaware of the deadly effects sniffing, huffing and bagging can have. “More than 1000 different commercial and household products are abused commonly in the United States...By the time children reach 8th grade, 16.1% will have misused inhalants.” (Topic Editors research, Write My Essay community 2021) It is imperative that adolescents are educated on the detrimental effects of inhalants as well as healthy alternatives to coping with the stress that may lead them to misuse and abuse.

Where are Inhalants Found?

Inhalants are found in:

1. Volatile (readily evaporated at low temperatures) solvents such as adhesives (airplane glue, rubber cement etc.)

2. Aerosols (spray paint, hair spray, air fresheners, asthma spray etc.)

3. Cleaning agents (spot removers etc.)

4. Dessert topping sprays such as whipped cream

How are Inhalants Absorbed?

Inhalants can be absorbed through:

1. Sniffing the product directly

2. Breathing in substances from a plastic bag (bagging)

3. Holding old rags or bandanas containing the substance over the nose and mouth (huffing)

Reasons for Use and Consequences

Perhaps it is because these items are so easily accessible, and are otherwise common for everyday use that the abuse of such does not appear detrimental to an adolescent. However, the effects of inhalants can be both devastating and permanent. Along with Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome (SSDS) and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), chronic users of inhalants can develop hypoxia which is characterized by a state of oxygen deficiency and can lead to brain damage and death. (Topic Editors research, Write My Essay SOS community 2021) Being that the primary users of inhalants are adolescents, the effects can be especially severe since the mind and body are in an exhausting period of change and growth. “People often start using inhalants because they are available, convenient, legal, and they can sober up within a short period of time. Young people usually between the ages of seven and seventeen are the most likely to use and abuse inhalants” (you can buy custom essay and learn Why People Use Inhalants 2017). While inhalants may be alluring to adolescents due to their ability to provide a quick escape from reality, the long-term effects clearly leave the abuser with more problems than they originally started with. Therefore, it is important to educate adolescents on the foundation of a healthy lifestyle based on proper diet, exercise and adequate rest in order to decrease (if not completely eliminate) the stressors that lead them to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as the use of inhalants.


When viewed holistically, health is made up of several interrelated components which rely on one another to create a state of wellness. When one component is affected, the others will follow. “A strong, healthy body is more resilient, more able to adapt, and less likely to incur the negative effects of stress at the mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual levels”. Exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are three key behaviors that lay a foundation for overall wellness, thereby decreasing stress and anxiety that can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as drug abuse. The high that comes with sniffing, bagging and huffing often leads to impaired focus, which in turn effects concentration in school and other activities. However, exercise “...increases the flow of blood to the brain, which results in improved concentration and alertness and helps you to think more clearly” (Reported by engineering thesis writing service 2020). This in turn can make studying easier, make challenges surmountable, and thus can eliminate the urge to escape stress through unhealthy habits. Finally, sleep has been proven to be a determinant factor in either the decrease or exacerbation on stress. Each individual needs sleep in order to repair and recover from the activities of their day. When an individual is not receiving the proper reparations that come with a full night’s sleep, it is not difficult to see why stress and anxiety could become prevalent in their daily routine. Beyond the foundation of proper diet, exercise and adequate sleep, there are a variety of activities and techniques adolescents and adults alike can use in their daily life to decrease stress, anxiety and depression and increase wellness. Such activities include but are not limited to listening to music, engaging in humor and meditation.

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Inhalant Use Among Adolescents

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Updated on April 07, 2021

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