By Jeremy Chen and Malhar Lakshman

What are inhalants?

Inhalants are anything that gives off fumes, and can be directed into the lungs. Such examples are the gas from whipped cream dispensers, and even spray paint cans.

They have 4 categories

Volatile Solvents




How inhalants affect the brain (short term)

  1. Users feel intoxicated
  2. Slurred speech
  3. Lack of coordination
  4. Euphoria (intense happiness)
  5. Dizziness

How inhalants affect the brain (long term)

  1. Muscle spasms
  2. Tremors
  3. Permanent trouble with even the most basic movements (walking, bending, talking, etc.)
  4. Brain hypoxia (Effects vary with where this occurs)

Additional effects of inhalants

  1. Heart damage
  2. Liver failure
  3. Muscle weakness
  4. Aplastic anemia (your body won't produce enough blood cells)
  5. Nerve damage, which can lead to chronic pain

Addiction to inhalants

Addiction is possible, albeit rarer than most drugs that increase dopamine. If an addict is taken off of their inhalants, they can suffer mild withdrawal.

How death is possbile

  1. Sudden sniffing death- Cardiac arrest
  2. Asphyxiation- Toxic fumes replace oxygen in the person's lungs
  3. Suffocation- Possible when person if using plastic bag to use inhalants
  4. Convulsions or seizures- Electric discharges in brain
  5. Coma
  6. Choking
  7. Injuries- Indirect injuries caused by inhalants (i.e. driving crashes)

Teen inhalant usage

Inhalant are one of the first drugs people abuse, and are one of the only classes of drugs that teens abuse more than adults.


  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
  2. Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP


There is no 1 specific classification of inhalants, as they are simply too broad. They therefore belong in their own category.