What Are Inhalant-Related Psychiatric Disorders?
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Inhalant-Related Psychiatric Disorders - An Overview

Published on Sep 20, 2022 and last reviewed on May 08, 2023   -  4 min read


Inhalant-related psychiatric disorders are conditions where substances are used to cause an abusive state of euphoria.

What Are Inhalant-Related Psychiatric Disorders?

The inhalant-related psychiatric disorder also termed huffing, is a; condition where a person achieves a state of euphoria or gets high by using substances like glues, paints, fuels, or other volatile substances that are easily available. Huffing has been practiced for ages now but has gained popularity in recent years, and the graph of; people involved has remarkably surged; variable factors; can be the reason considered, like low cost; availability, peer influence, and rapid mood elevation. A significant correlation has been demonstrated between alcohol consumption and huffing, which states the; population that is alcoholic is most likely to be involved in activities like huffing. Adolescents involved carry out acts that can be fatal as well; thus various laws; have been implemented to control the practice of toxic inhalation but are difficult to implement due to the inability to regulate and restrict the availability of the substance of abuse as these are the day-to-day used products.

What Is Substance of Abuse and How Are They Used to Cause the Effect?

Substances of abuse or the products used in huffing mainly contain volatile liquids commonly made up of butane, lead, propane, toluene, ethyl acetate, or naphthalene.

The products that are commonly used due to their easy access and low cost are spray paint, permanent markers, correction fluid, glue, lighter fluid, hairspray, gasoline, kerosene, and mothballs. These substances are generally packed in a container, and the bottle is placed; over the mouth or nose and inhaled to obtain the desired state of euphoria. Abusive is also sprayed; directly into the nose or mouth, or applied over; the sleeves or collars of the dresses that are inhaled at the intervals; the effect lasts for a short duration, and so the individuals; inhale the substances repeatedly.

What Effect Does an Inhalant Have on the Body and Organs?

After inhalation or abuse, a person enters a state of euphoria that is similar to a state of alcohol consumption, but the duration of effect is shorter in comparison to alcohol.

Effect of Inhalant on CNS:

Similar to other methods to gain the feeling of euphoria, inhalants also target the central nervous system, and the activity; of the brain is slowed down. An individual experiences the following symptoms:

  • Tremors and uncontrollable shaking on long-term use of abuse.

  • Seizures.

  • Euphoria (feeling high).

  • Dizziness.

  • Double or blurred vision as it also affects eyesight.

  • Change in personality and behavior due to damage to the brain.

  • Memory loss.

The abuse also affects other organs like the lungs, liver, kidney, peripheral nervous system, gastrointestinal system, muscles, and bones when used for long durations; the severity of the damage; depends on the quantity, frequency, and duration of the use.

The effect of inhalant is quick as the fumes dissolve in the fatty tissue of the brain within seconds of passing from nose to lungs to heart and brain; it can also; cause sudden sniffing death within seconds of inhalation, or cause permanent coma or paralysis, inability to think, talk, walk depending on the inhalant used.

Death after the use of inhalants may occur due to heart rhythm irregularities leading to cardiac arrest, suffocation, asphyxiation, or aspiration.

How Is Inhalation Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of inhalant-related psychotic disorders is purely based on the signs and symptoms presented by the individual can range from mild headache and disorientation to life-threatening suffocation, irregular heart rate, etc. if a patient is brought to the emergency room is usually in a state of euphoria and is disoriented, the vitals are elevated, breath smells like the odor of the substance of abuse, which can help confirm the diagnosis. Blood and specific urine analysis help to detect the quantity and the substance of abuse as inhalants are not detected by normal drug urine analysis. The clinical picture usually is presented as elevated liver enzymes; the gas chromatography; technique can also be used.

Differential Diagnosis:

As inhalant-induced psychiatric disorders resemble mental health disorders, the differential diagnosis is as follows:

Treatment mainly aims at discontinuing the inhalation and reverting the symptoms or controlling the further damage. Treatment options similar to other mental health disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, activity and engagement programs, and rehabilitation programs.

Inhalant Abuse or Overdose:

An inhalant overdose occurs when a large amount of toxic substance is inhaled, causing severe symptoms; or death. Inhalant overdose can occur to anybody, even the first-time; user as well; it does not; require you to be an abuser for a long period. It is usually caused by solvents and aerosol sprays that are highly concentrated with a large number of active ingredients; stop sniffing deaths; usually occur due to suffocation when inhalation occurs in closed spaces or as the heart fails to function.

How Is Overdose Treated?

Inhalant overdose causes life-threatening symptoms including seizures; and cardiac arrhythmia, or the heart completely stop beating; therefore, the; primary treatment involves emergency room doctors who carry out symptomatic treatment to control the seizures and revert the function of the heart. No treatment modalities have been found to date to revert the effect of inhalant intoxication.


Inhalant-related psychiatric disorders are conditions where individuals generally in the adolescent age group use abusive inhalants like paints, kerosine, and white markers to experience a state of euphoria similar to that of alcohol, but inhalant-infused; euphoria is short-termed, which leads to repeated; inhalation by the addict. The symptoms include euphoria, tremors, disorientation, slurred speech, blurred vision, etc. Its treatment includes symptomatic cure and therapies to promote discontinuing the habit to prevent further complications.

Last reviewed at:
08 May 2023  -  4 min read




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