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Inhalants and Your Children

Inhalants are one of the first drugs that kids try, probably because they are so accessible. They’re in the garage, under the kitchen counter, and available in every grocery store. They represent a very mixed group of chemicals ranging from cigarette lighter fluid to medical-grade nitrous oxide. In fact, the only thing all these chemicals have in common is that they are inhaled and they alter consciousness.

Inhalants are one of the first drugs that kids try, probably because they are so accessible. They’re in the garage, under the kitchen counter, and available in every grocery store. They represent a very mixed group of chemicals ranging from cigarette lighter fluid to medical-grade nitrous oxide. In fact, the only thing all these chemicals have in common is that they are inhaled and they alter consciousness. This is a very easy group of drugs to understand because it breaks down into two categories: industrial chemicals, which were never intended for human use, and nitrous oxide.

 

We are continually amazed by the kids’ strong desire to alter their consciousness. They go to such extremes as inhaling gaso­line, paint thinner, lighter fluid, and a host of other industrial chemicals. One common factor to all of these industrial chemicals is that they are volatile and thus can easily be inhaled or “huffed” from a container or a soaked rag. Another common factor is that they are all extremely toxic to most organs in the body. Serious sol­vent intoxication resembles that of alcohol, with muscular incoor­dination, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some users describe changes in their perception of objects or time and/or have delusions or hallucinations involving any of the senses. Muscular incoordination occurs as toxicity levels increase, along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus), double vision, abdominal pain, and flushing of the skin. If a person inhales more, vomiting, loss of reflexes, cardiac and circulation problems, suppression of respiration and, possibly, death can be the result. Long-term use of inhalants can damage the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, blood, and many other organs, in addition to the nervous system. The bottom line is this: These chemicals were never intended for human use, they are extremely toxic, and you should do everything you can to keep kids away from them.

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