Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Recognize the Signs of Inhalant Abuse

Knowing the signs of inhalant abuse can help identity the need for treatment.

According to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission of the United States, inhalant abuse can kill. Not only can it kill, but it can kill instantly and suddenly, even if it is your son’s first time engaging in the abuse. It can kill the second time he engages in this behavior. It can kill at any time. The abuse of any drug or alcohol is dangerous for teens and adults alike, but inhalant abuse is one of the most dangerous when it comes to instantaneous and unexpected deadly results.

Inhalant abuse occurs when an individual inhales the fumes from aerosol cans or other toxic chemicals, such as gasoline. The fumes from these products can create stupor-like symptoms, including loss of muscle control, for a period of up to 45 minutes. In many cases, the youth will “chase the high” by engaging in the behavior multiple times during the course of one abuse session. Unfortunately, continued abuse only increases his chances of suffering from permanent brain damage or damage to major organs and bone marrow production. Sudden sniffing death is always a risk.

Recognize the Signs of Inhalant Abuse

There are two sets of symptoms that parents may look for when it comes to inhalant abuse. For instance, there are the symptoms of drug abuse in general, and there are a specific set of symptoms that are associated primarily with inhalant abuse. If your teen is abusing inhalants, you may find they exhibit specific issues, such as:

  • The odor of chemical-like scents on breath or clothing
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation
  • Paint or ink on fingers or face with no explanation
  • Red eyes, runny eyes
  • Sores on the mouth
  • Increased irritability, anxiety and restlessness
  • Frequent or constant access to markers
  • Carrying rags or sniffing clothing (sleeves or collars) consistently

In addition to these symptoms, teens who are developing a problem with inhalants or any other type of drug abuse may pay less attention to their studies as they place more of their attention on obtaining drugs, using them, and recovering from the aftereffects of the abuse. They may have developed new friendships and be reluctant to let you meet their new friends. They may have changes in behavior such as becoming overly hostile about their privacy at home and away from home, or display a disregard for their appearance. Finally, if your teenager is spending money with little or nothing to show for it, they could be spending the money on inhalants or other drugs.

Behavioral Therapy for Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant abuse can lead to addiction, which is a chronic — and treatable — brain disease. One of the treatments methods that can help with inhalant addiction is behavioral therapy. Based upon the premise that behaviors are leaned and can therefore be “unlearned,” CBT addresses each young man individually and the progression of the treatment is tailored to your son’s specific needs. A counselor trained in this method will help your child over the course of several weeks to find better ways to think about his life, resulting in better tools to make appropriate decisions. It is beneficial in terms of relapse prevention as the sessions are designed to provide real life skills your son will need to overcome his abuse or addiction to inhalants. By utilizing the resources of an experienced team of providers to help your son regain his health and control over his life, you can give him a path out of his current situation and direct him to a much brighter future. Call us for help today.

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