HOW DO INHALANTS AFFECT YOUR BODY?

Inhalant use can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, liver, bone marrow and other organs.

Photo credit: Thomas Tamm

  • Inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly.

  • Users can experience nausea and nosebleeds and lose their sense of hearing or smell. Chronic use can lead to muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone, and the poisonous chemicals gradually damage the lungs and the immune system.

  • An inhalant user risks Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Death can occur the first time or the hundredth time an inhalant is used.

“It was a steady progression from glue sniffing, gas sniffing, magic mushrooms, that went on until I was 17. Then I started on cannabis. I was spending my money on as much cannabis as I could get my hands on. Then I was old enough to go into the clubs, so I started there on amphetamines and Ecstasy....

“I began hanging out with people who were taking heroin, and soon I was using it more and more until I was addicted. I had no idea then the damage it would cause me later...that I would be serving one prison sentence after another, burglarizing people’s houses, stealing from my family. All the pain and heartache that I have caused was worse than stealing the material things from them.” —Dennis

“When I was in fourth grade a so-called friend of mine introduced me to inhalants. Being so young and not knowing any better, I started huffing gas every day all the way up to my eighth grade year. My motor function skills are pretty much shot and I sit for hours on end just staring into space without a single thought even crossing my mind. It’s like my body is here but I am not. I have a hard time holding down jobs and I have been living by myself now for twelve years. I look normal from the outside but when I try to show interest and talk to women, it becomes apparent that I am pretty much a vegetable. I am sick of living this way and I would rather be dead than to live my life like this anymore, because it seems like I’m already dead anyway.” —John