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The Dangers of Inhalants

Anne is a freelancer with a passion for writing and helping others by writing about important topics and issues.

Inhalant abuse is a serious issue, especially among teens today.

Inhalant abuse is a serious issue, especially among teens today.

Inhalants are substances that people inhale to achieve a high from the fumes of the chemicals. Most of the people using inhalants include young teens who think that the potential risk associated with inhaling cleaning products and other dangerous chemicals is harmless. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Inhalants are very dangerous and can cause instant death. It is important to educate young teens about the dangers of inhalants to prevent the abuse of these products.

Types of Inhalants

The types of inhalants that teens typically use to try and get high include household chemicals and cleaners such as paint thinner, glue, aerosol sprays, spray paints, and gasoline. These household products are very dangerous and poisonous upon ingestion. Most of these products have warning labels in the event of poisoning or inhalation situations because the inhalation or consumption of the chemicals can lead to immediate death.

Household cleaners are one type of common inhalant that may be abused by someone.

Household cleaners are one type of common inhalant that may be abused by someone.

Dangerous Side Effects of Inhalants

Some of the side effects of inhalant use include slurred speech, dizziness, lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting, headaches, hallucinations, and even death. The term “sudden inhalation death” refers to someone that has died very quickly due to inhalation of toxic fumes. Young teens do not understand that an otherwise very healthy person could inhale these drugs and die within minutes of ingestion. The risk of life or death is very strong with these substances, and it is not worth it to misuse these substances knowing that death is rather imminent.

Rush, a nitrite sold in sex stores, has been flagged by the FDA as a dangerous inhalant that should not be used.

Rush, a nitrite sold in sex stores, has been flagged by the FDA as a dangerous inhalant that should not be used.

Other Types of Inhalants

Nitrites, also referred to as “poppers” or “Rush”, are also a form of inhalant that used to be sold in sex shops around the country. These inhalants were specifically used to be inhaled, and reportedly supposed to increase sexual pleasure by relaxing the blood vessels in the body. Under the Medicines Act of 1968, poppers were not allowed to be sold for human consumption. However, many shops go around this by still selling the product and just not specifying human consumption on the product. This led to a lot of shops being able to sell them under the radar, similar to how many smoke shops have been able to sell manufactured drug products like spice without facing legal consequences. However, in 2021, the FDA wrote a report and warning about the adverse health effects of poppers, advising the public not to use them. After a high incidence report of hospitalizations and deaths associated with the drug, the FDA made the decision to warn consumers to throw away the product and consult a health care professional if they were experiencing any adverse symptoms after stopping. In some states, the sale of poppers is still technically legal, while in other states, they have stopped allowing the sale of these drugs.

Addiction Potential

While the addiction potential for inhalants is low, these substances are still highly dangerous. One inhalation could lead to immediate cardiac arrest or death. Those that do become addicted will typically be brought in for substance abuse therapy and counseling for treatment, but there is no medication to combat any withdrawal symptoms a person may experience, as nothing has been approved in the treatment of inhalants and addiction to inhalants. Hospitals and emergency rooms will treat the patients poisoned by the toxic substances by minimizing their serious health symptoms such as seizures, strokes, or heart attacks.


Inhalants are very toxic and dangerous substances that can lead to instant death upon inhalation. While use of inhalants for getting “high” is more common among young teens, nitrites or “poppers” may be common among anyone who is sexually active and purchasing this product at local sex shops. It is important to be educated about the extreme risks, health complications, and even deaths resulting from inhalant use. Inhalants are not meant to be consumed, and we should ensure that the young people in this country understand the dangers of using these products. We can prevent many young deaths by warning teens about the risks of inhalant use. If someone you know has used inhalants or is in an emergency situation, call 911 and a Poison Control Center immediately and take action. You could help save someone's life.


National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2017 February.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “FDA Advises Consumers Not to Purchase or Use Nitrite ‘Poppers.’” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 2021 June 24.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Anne Marie Carr