Inhalant Addiction and its Risks
A call came to our child helpline, saying that some students were suspended from a school in the city. When our team reached the school to enquire about the issue, the principal showed them empty tubes of fevibond (a bonding agent) whiteners, fevicol etc which they took out from the suspended students’ school bags. We met with the children and found that they have been using inhalant addictives for many months. From our enquiry we found that there were children as young as 12 years and girls too using the same. We made arrangements to send some children for de-addiction and imparted awareness on the dangers of inhalant addiction. The teachers told us that they found empty tubes of the above mentioned items and made enquiry and found that children were frequenting nearby shops to buy the same. The shop owners thought that they were using it for school ‘project works’
Inhalant use is increasing alarmingly among teenager school goers. One of the reasons may be that, they don’t think trying inhalants once or twice is risky, and don’t consider the regular use of inhalants to be harmful. Young teens are ignorant about the risks of inhalant addictive substances.
Inhalants are chemicals found in ordinary household or workplace products that people inhale on purpose to get “high”. Because many inhalants can be found around the house, people often don’t realize that inhaling their fumes, even just once, can be very harmful to the brain and body and can lead to death. In fact, the chemicals found in these products can change the way the brain works and cause other problems in the body.
Volatile solvents (liquids that become a gas at room temperature), aerosols (sprays that contain propellants and solvents), nitrites (a class of inhalants used mainly to enhance sexual experiences), gases (used in the medical field to provide pain relief) etc are the diverse types of inhalants.
Different inhalants cause different effects; the lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Nearly all inhalants produce a pleasurable effect by slowing down brain activity. If enough of the chemical is inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce anesthesia—a loss of sensation—and can lead to unconsciousness. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system.
Over use of inhalants can cause the following damages like damage to nerve fibers, brain cells, Heart damage, Liver failure, Muscle weakness, Aplastic anemia—the body produces fewer blood cells, Nerve damage, which can lead to chronic pain. Damage to these organs is not reversible even when the person stops abusing inhalants.
The painful reality is that depending on the type of inhalant used, the harmful health effects will differ, such as damage to red blood cells, weakened immune system, breathing problems and death, liver and kidney damage, sudden death etc.
Most of the routine users think that they can stand away from the inhalant addiction when they want to, but unless they undergo de-addiction process they cannot be free from it. If you or a friend is in crisis and need to speak with someone now, please call: 1098, a 24x7 toll free child helpline.