How do I Stop My Child from Using Inhalants?

Sometimes, you may notice that your teenager, seems distant and can’t seem to focus on the world around them. Certain individuals may be going through a personal situation that demands their attention, but others might be under the influence of an addictive substance. There has been an increase in teens using inhalants to get high.

There are multiple reasons as to why a teen might use inhalants to get high, but as a parent, you are not helpless. Several organizations have laid out different options that you can use to approach teens about inhalants or other drugs. By understanding the symptoms of inhalant drugs, you can better approach the situation and have a discussion with your child. Additionally, knowing the harms that come with these drugs can help you turn your child away from using the different substances.

If your child is struggling with addiction of any kind but specifically have an addiction to huffing paint and other inhalants, call us at 405-583-4390 today. Your child is important and should not have to resort to using substances to deal with problems. We will get a personalized treatment program put together to better assist them in overcoming addiction. By fixing the problem now, they have a better chance of avoiding substance abuse later in life.


Inhalants are an easy access, dangerous substance your teen can abuse. Learn more about them and how to stop abuse down below:

Actions That Parents can Take

As a parent, you want to keep your child safe. The reality of keeping them safe means involves discussing hard topics like drug use. Many teenagers are beginning to use inhalant drugs because of their easy access. The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) issued a survey to 8th graders between 2003 and 2008 that found an increase in the use of inhalants over that of marijuana or cigarettes. Furthermore, a survey conducted in 2015 found that 1.8 million Americans were abusing inhalants. Out of that 1.8 million, 38 percent of them were 12 to 17 years old. It is no longer a mystery that children will find ways to use substances.However, what are your options as a parent?

Determine A Course of Action

Start by simply creating a discussion. It can be intimidating because it is not the talk you want to have, but it can make all the difference. Do not approach your child with anger and a mindset of judgment, that will only push them away. Discuss the dangers of not only common drugs but ensure you include inhalants. The damage that inhalants cause to the body can cause severe short-term problems. The NCHR says, “make sure they are aware that it’s not just a harmless way to get high.”

Additionally, look at their school supplies. You may feel surprised when you learn how many have chemicals that allow an individual to get high. The NCHR recommends discarding all supplies that use solvent-based chemicals and replacing them with water-based supplies. This simple act takes away dangerous inhalants and reduces the risk of your child abusing them.

When put in a more pressing situation and you catch your child huffing to get high, it is vital you stay calm. Do not react with anger as it could lead to further problems in that situation. First, analyze your child’s breathing. If they are breathing, relocate them to a well-ventilated location. Access to constant, clean airflow will allow the fumes of the inhalant drugs to wear away. The fresh air can assist your child’s breathing. If you find yourself in a situation where your child is unconscious or not breathing at all, call emergency services immediately. There is not a lot you can do at this moment other than getting medical professionals to the location as fast as possible.

Get Professional Help

Once you begin to notice inhalants are a problem for your child, consider entering them into medical treatment right away. When working with a medical professional, they can learn why your child has begun using inhalants and how they can stop. Getting help is not a bad thing, in fact, it is the best option if your child is struggling with an addiction to inhalant drugs.

A Hidden Household Danger

Inhalant drugs are becoming more common among young adults because of their cheap price and ease of access. Many inhalant drugs can be found in most households meaning children do not have to spend any money to get high. A vast majority of parents associate the term “huffing” with paint directly, but the Mayo Clinic found that many teens use the term interchangeably with most inhalants. There are five primary ways that you teen may take inhalant drugs including:

  • Huffing – Huffing inhalant drugs includes soaking a rag in a chemical substance and pressing said rag to the mouth.
  • Sniffing – Sniffing inhalants includes sniffing fumes from a source directly or spraying the substance onto a heated spot to sniff from there.
  • Bagging – Bagging consists of spraying inhalants into a plastic or paper bag, and placing the bag directly over the nose, mouth, or head. The Mayo Clinic warns that this method usually makes individuals suffocate.
  • Spraying – An individual will directly spray inhalant drugs into the nose or mouth for faster effects.
  • Inhaling – CO2 canisters are known as “wippets” can be found in whipping cream containers. The user pierces the canister and then inhales the drug. Inhaling can cause frostbite if one inhales directly from the can, so they are often put into balloons to heat up and then one ingests them.

Common Inhalant Sources

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are over 1,000 possible inhalant drugs that are commonly used. Many inhalants that people choose to abuse are common household items, including:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Household cleaners
  • Deodorants
  • Cooking spray
  • Glue
  • Rubber cement
  • Paint thinner
  • Lighter fluid
  • Shoe polish
  • Spray paint
  • Markers
  • Gasoline
  • Whippets from whipping cream cans

These items are all common household items that teens use as inhalant drugs. As a parent, it is crucial to ensure these kinds of items are in safe locations. If your child is using inhalants, there are several signs to watch for that may indicate that your teen is using inhalant substances.

Signs Your Child May be Using

There are several ways to determine if your child is using inhalant drugs. According to Medline Plus, immediate signs to look for when determining inhalant use include:

  • The chemical smell on the breath
  • There will be paint visible near the face and on the hands or clothing
  • Empty hidden cans of spray paint or other solvents around the home
  • Hidden rags that smell of chemicals
  • Eyes are runny and red
  • Appear to be disoriented, similarly, to being drunk
  • Slurring of speech
  • Constant nausea
  • No appetite
  • Increase in irritability and aggression
  • Depression
  • Lack of attention and alertness

Short-Term Effects

Not every symptom needs to be present for you to feel concerned. If your child is showing more than one of these symptoms, it is likely that they are under the influence of an inhalant. If it is severe enough, you should contact medical help immediately. The National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) also warns of short-term and long-term hazards when using inhalant drugs. Primarily, they warn parents about the health concerns that come along with these drugs. Some of the short-term damage that comes with inhalants include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Slurring of speech
  • Decrease in coordination
  • Reaching unconsciousness

Long-Term Effects

You should discuss every single harm that inhalants cause with your child, especially when having a discussion about alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use. There is a likely chance that teens will resort to inhalants if you do not talk about the effects during the “drug talk.” You can avoid the long-term damage that inhalants create by getting your child help as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that will not always be the case, and being aware of long-term damage is crucial. The long-term damage that the NCPC warn parents about include:

  • Loss of brain function
  • Severe nerve damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Muscles begin failing
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Addiction to other substances

Sudden Death

Alongside the short and long-term hazards of inhalants, there is one harm that can occur at any time. The NCPC refers to it as “Sudden Sniffing Death” (SSD) and found that it can occur in any individual at any point. It does not matter if it was the first time an individual was huffing to get high or if they have done it several times, SSD can kill. The process of SSD includes:

  • The brain losing oxygen at an irregular rate
  • Stress hormones overwhelm the body
  • The heart begins beating irregularly
  • Death occurs quickly after the heart begins beating irregularly

Treating Inhalant Drug Addiction

Living a life on inhalants is unhealthy and dangerous, but it is not the final option either. Individuals struggling with an inhalant addiction can get help in overcoming their problems. Be aware that overdose can occur when using inhalants. These overdoses often result in seizures, coma, or death. Luckily, there is a way to overcome inhalant addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), behavioral therapy is the most effective form of treatment.

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – Individuals are taught how to recognize and cope with the negative behaviors that have led them to addition. They will receive education about addiction while also learning to avoid certain triggers that may cause a relapse.
  • Motivational Incentive – Therapists will offer small incentives to individuals who maintain sobriety and stay clean of drugs. These incentives may include gift cards or small tokens for remaining sober over long periods of time.

There is no cure for addiction, but individuals can learn to change their behavior and live around it, similarly to asthma and heart disease. Taking control of addiction is the first step to living a longer, more productive life. Addiction can be extremely destructive for adolescents because addiction will only hold on tighter to them while growing. Entering treatment at a young age offers a higher chance of recovering and maintaining sobriety. There is no addiction worth forgetting about and not helping. Inhalants are a harmful way for young people to get high without a lot of money. As a parent, you can readjust your child’s life path and get them the help they deserve.

Where to Go from Here?

Parenting is not an easy job, especially when children grow up hanging out with the wrong crowds. Drugs become a problem and as a parent, you need to equip yourself with the correct information and lead your child away from that path. Inhalants have become a popular way for teens to get high but there are ways to correct this behavior. Do not criticize your child, instead, have a discussion with them and try to understand why they felt they had to abuse inhalants. Additionally, discuss the harms that come with inhalant drugs and what other problems can occur.  Your child does not need to resort to drug use to escape personal problems.

We want to help you and your child overcome addiction, so call us at 405-583-4390 today. Experts can personalize a recovery program to best help your child in the treatment process. Inhalants are a problem for the younger generation, and we want to help them live a productive future, without substances getting in the way.


GIVE US A CALL AT 405-583-4390!

We here to help with your guidance and questions.

If you have any questions about drug and alcohol treatment, give us a call. Our trained professionals are standing by to answer your questions and help you get the help you need.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search