Inhalant abuse is not as widespread as you’d find with opioids or other drugs, but it is an addiction that occurs. Unfortunately, regular use of these substances for extended periods can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Inhalants are typically everyday products such as household solvents, anesthetics, gases, cleaning products, and gasoline. Most of these chemicals are hazardous to humans in small doses, which makes inhalant addiction much more dangerous.

Inhalant use, as well as withdrawal, can lead to life-threatening scenarios. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that a single episode or occasional use of inhalants can cause the chemicals to lead to severe, adverse effects when moving from the lungs to the bloodstream before acting on the central nervous system (CNS). Inhalants can kill users even after one time, which is known as sudden sniffing death syndrome.

While parents are busy monitoring their children for prescription drug use, alcohol, or marijuana, they commonly overlook inhalants. Inhalant abuse happens much more frequently than parents would expect, but the reality is the easy access to inhalants make it an issue that must be watched.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Inhalant Use?

In many cases, a person must develop a severe physical dependence on or addiction to inhalants. On some occasions, the chemicals can be abused for months or years, which contribute to the intensity of inhalant withdrawal symptoms, such as hallucinations or seizures. 

Due to the various types of inhalants, withdrawal symptoms are going to depend on the specific type. Some of the most common symptoms of inhalant withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Hand tremors
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Severe inhalant cravings

Fortunately, many of these symptoms will subside in a few days as the cravings disappear. It is possible, however, to continue experiencing hallucinations or seizures, which require medical supervision to overcome safely.

During this withdrawal period, you will continue to experience symptoms from inhalants that involve:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Continued cravings for inhalants

Once you abstain from inhalants, you will experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms until the chemicals in your body readjust to normal levels. The length of use, as well as the severity of the addiction, will determine the intensity of the symptoms. Generally speaking, the longer inhalants are used, the more difficult and dangerous it will be to withdraw from the substance. Severe cases of withdrawal can cause convulsions.

What Are the Stages of the Inhalant Withdrawal Timeline?

The inhalant withdrawal process will depend on varying factors, which include:

  • Using other drugs in conjunction with inhalants
  • Underlying mental health conditions
  • Any substance abuse treatment attempts and/or withdrawal experience
  • The level of support around you
  • How long you might have used inhalants
  • How much and how often you used inhalants
  • Your current overall physical and mental health
  • Any stressors from friends and family

The acute withdrawal timeline consists of:

Acute Inhalant Intoxication: Often the shortest stage, which is where you will still seek pleasure from containers, inhaling chemicals from bags, huff vapors, and continue using the drug despite dangers.

Two to five days: Withdrawal symptoms from inhalants will become more severe after the last inhalation. Symptoms can persist for a month or longer and include:

  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Tingling
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Chills
  • Headaches

Late withdrawal: While acute symptoms may begin to fade, you can still experience lasting effects for a week after your last use, which include:

  • Inability to process specific cognitive functions
  • Depression
  • Amnesia
  • Severe cravings for inhalants

Why Should I Detox?

The withdrawal process can be physically and mentally agonizing. To prevent a relapse from happening, individuals are encouraged to detox at a treatment center that offers a staff of medical professionals who first block access to inhalants before treating users right away.

As a client, you must start inhalant treatment immediately after you stop using the substance. There is no tapering process available, and since there are adverse short-term effects, being in the presence of professionals is crucial. You will be given medication to assist with symptoms of nausea or sleeplessness. The first step in addiction treatment is medical detox, and you will be assessed to determine your next level of care.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

To successfully overcome your dependence or addiction to inhalants, you must follow through with the continuum of care. It requires courage to overcome your addiction, and committing yourself to excellence will only improve the quality of your life. 

Most people who struggle with inhalant addiction will be placed into residential treatment. This placement allows them to focus on addressing their addiction and healing with few distractions. During this time, provided therapies will teach you how to cope with triggers, and specialists will help you create a relapse prevention plan. If you or someone you know is struggling with inhalant addiction and fear the withdrawal process, help is available.

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