Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce mind-altering effects. Within seconds, the user experiences intoxication and other effects similar to those from alcohol. There are a variety of effects that may be experienced during or shortly after use, including:
- Slurred speech
- Drunk, dizzy or dazed appearance
- Inability to coordinate movement
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Impaired judgment
- Severe headaches
- Rashes around the nose and mouth
- Prolonged sniffing of these chemicals can induce irregular and rapid heartbeat and lead to heart failure and death within minutes.
- Death from suffocation can occur by replacing oxygen in the lungs with the chemical, and then in the central nervous system, so that breathing ceases.
Long-term users have experienced:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Serious and sometimes irreversible damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain
- Memory impairment, diminished intelligence
- Hearing loss
- Bone marrow damage
- Deaths from heart failure or asphyxiation (loss of oxygen)
The chronic use of inhalants has been associated with a number of serious health problems. Sniffing glue and paint thinner causes kidney problems. Sniffing toluene and other solvents causes liver damage. Inhalant abuse has also resulted in memory impairment and diminished intelligence.