web analytics
Skip to main content

Inhalants are psychoactive substances and typically consist of everyday household items, sometimes used recreationally due to the chemicals they can contain (gases, solvents, and aerosol propellers). Alkyl nitrites are a notable exception, as they are used medically to treat heart-related pain via inhalation. While teen inhalant abuse is common, it is the only class of drugs abused by children more often than teens.

It is an issue across all social and ethnic groups, and is considered an international problem. Due to the chemical vapors produced by a range of highly toxic substances, teen inhalant abuse has an extremely harmful impact to brain development with long-term consequences. Some examples of inhalants include:

  • Hair spray
  • Cooking spray
  • Canned air
  • Spray paint
  • Numerous glues
  • Correction fluid
  • Alkyl nitrites (poppers or snappers)
  • Felt tip marker pens
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Butane cans
  • Gasoline and kerosene vapors
  • Propane
  • Cleaning products

Signs of Teen Inhalant Abuse

All inhalants are either gases or liquids that become gaseous at room temperature. Different chemicals have different effects on the brain, but the most common ones are butane, propane, petrol vapor, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), acetone (nail polish removers), and toluene (paint thinners, glue, markers). While inhalants like nitrous oxide and alkyl nitrites have medical uses, their overuse can also be toxic.

The most common sign of teen inhalant abuse is intoxication – drowsiness, loss of physical faculties, dizziness, and impaired judgment. The pathways for these chemicals differ from substance to substance, but their symptoms resemble alcohol or sedative/tranquilizer abuse. The signs of teen inhalant abuse include:

  • Loss of inhibition
  • Lack of coordination
  • Change in behavior and mood (irritability and belligerence)
  • Physical weakness
  • Loss of weight or appetite
  • Negative mood changes (depressive symptoms)

Inhalants aren’t just a danger for the brain. Chronic abuse can lead to damage and disease in the heart, kidneys, lungs, and liver. Other symptoms of inhalant-related brain damage include diminished cognitive ability, memory problems, and personality changes.

Teen Inhalant Abuse Treatment & Dual Diagnosis

At Visions Treatment Centers, we begin the teen inhalant abuse treatment process with a thorough assessment of teens’ mental and physical well-being. In cases of addiction, a holistic approach is necessary. This includes addressing inhalant abuse and its mental effects, as well as the physical harm it has caused, and contributing factors.

We focus on treating codependent cases of poor mental health and teen inhalant abuse. We recognize the risk to turn towards inhalants is greater among children and teens who have suffered trauma or hardships, and among those with signs of depression and traumatic stress and antisocial behavior. Teens who abuse inhalants are also five times as likely to use another drug than peers who have used non-inhalant drugs. Our teen inhalant abuse treatment programs include:

Inpatient Treatment

Our inpatient teen inhalant abuse treatment programs help patients recover from inhalant abuse via a combination of withdrawal treatment, expert medical care, and mental health treatments. As we focus on cases of a dual diagnosis of inhalant abuse and a mental health condition, our residential program includes first-line mental health treatments like talk therapy and medication, as well as experiential therapies such as art therapy, mindfulness training, neurofeedback, and more.

Outpatient Treatment and PHP

For cases where residential treatment is not necessary or unfeasible, we also offer intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs to individuals struggling with inhalant use and mental health issues. We understand many teens and adults don’t know how to stop or are trying to, without success. Our IOP and PHP facility helps with an individualized, carefully scheduled treatment program.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we also place an emphasis on continuing care. Mental health issues and inhalant abuse are not easily resolved, especially not within the scope of a single program. While we help teens take the important first steps towards improved long-term quality of life, these issues require a longer battle – one we are committed to.

That is why we coordinate with teens and their families to ensure they continue to have access to the help they need going forward, via support groups, local resources, and community support. We also place great importance on family education, so families learn alongside their teens how to better combat symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.


    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.