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Inhalant Addiction Treatment in Illinois

Common household products like spray paint, cleaning fluids, aerosols, and even hairspray are readily available and can be misused to produce a short-lived, intoxicating high.

Inhalant abuse, often referred to as “huffing,” is a serious and potentially life-threatening form of substance use affecting adolescents and adults across the United States, with Illinois being no exception.

Common household products like spray paint, cleaning fluids, aerosols, and even hairspray are readily available and can be misused to produce a short-lived, intoxicating high.

If you or your loved ones are suffering from this type of drug abuse, this guide will walk you through the complexities of inhalant addiction, including the types of substances involved, the dangers associated with their use, and how to effectively treat this often-overlooked form of substance abuse.

A Brief Overview of Inhalant Abuse

One of the most important steps to combat any type of substance use disorder is to understand how it works and what it does to the brain.

The practice of huffing or misusing inhalants involves the intentional inhalation of vapors from various substances to achieve a euphoric high.

The intoxicating effects of inhalants are caused by their ability to rapidly enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. Once there, they typically act as central nervous system depressants, disrupting the normal functioning of brain cells.

The problem with this type of drug use is that continuous use of inhalants leads to brain damage and mental health disorders.

Besides the brain, inhalant addiction can also have devastating effects on other organs of the body, since they’re not fit for human consumption, but more about that in the following sections.

Types of Inhalants

Inhalants is a collective term that encompasses a wide range of addictive substances that produce volatile vapors.

However, they’re typically categorized into four main types based on their chemical composition. In some cases, inhalants may also contain a mixture of different chemicals. Here’s a quick look at some of them.

Volatile Solvents

These are liquids that evaporate easily and are often found in cleaning products, including household ones.

They typically include paint thinners, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, glues, gasoline, marker fluid, degreasers, rubber cement, and correction fluid.

Aerosol Sprays

These include various pressurized containers that release a fine mist when sprayed. They typically include spray paint, hairspray,  fabric protector spray, deodorants, and vegetable oil spray.


These are substances that exist in a gaseous state at room temperature and are often inhaled directly through plastic bags.

The most common gaseous inhalant is nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is also consumed as whippets, which is a mixture of whipped cream and nitrous oxide).

The list also includes various anesthetics, such as chloroform and halothane in addition to some household gases like propane tanks, refrigerants, lighter fluid, and butane lighters.


These are a specific class of inhalants with distinct effects compared to others, which include Amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and isobutyl nitrite.

These inhalants are found in liquid aromas, room deodorizers, and some types of leather cleaners.

Why Inhalants Are So Addictive

Different inhalants may function differently. However, they usually have the same addictive patterns.

They’re quickly absorbed and reach the brain to produce their effects. This creates a sensation of euphoria that encourages addictive patterns through dependence.

Some inhalants like nitrous oxide effects have specific effects on the brain, as they causes continuous episodes of laughing, which is why it’s commonly abused for recreational purposes.

Is Inhalant Addiction Common in Illinois?

Although inhalants aren’t the most commonly abused drugs, it’s becoming a serious problem all across the nation, and not just in Illinois.

In fact, reports show that over 1.8 million individuals above the age of 12 abused these drugs in 2015, and the numbers grew to around 2.2 million in just a few years, according to reports by SAMHSA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The real danger of inhalants doesn’t stem from their potency or their addictive potential. Instead, it comes from how easily it can go unnoticed until the late stages of addiction.

As you’ve noticed, many inhalants are readily available in common household products, making them easily accessible and often the first form of substance experimentation for adolescents.

What Are the Effects of Inhalant Addiction?

Despite being relatively more accessible than mainstream drugs, inhalants can cause a wide range of serious effects on the body and mind. These include both short-term and long-term effects.

Short Term Effects

  • Intoxication that leads to the drug effects, including slurred speech and slow responses
  • Spasms and convulsions
  • Lethargy and general weakness
  • Coughing and shortness of breath due to inhaling toxic fumes
  • Fainting that may progress to coma
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Poor coordination
  • Blurred vision

Long Term Effects

  • Brain and nerve cell damage, which is displayed as loss of memory, learning disabilities, personality changes, and difficulty with problem-solving.
  • Loss of vision and/or hearing
  • Severe organ damage, including high risk of kidney, liver, and/or heart failure
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Severe seizures
  • Extreme psychological disorders, with a high risk of psychosis, depression, and anxiety
  • High risk of respiratory failure, coma, and sudden death.

How to Identify Inhalant Use Disorder

Identifying inhalant abuse at early stages is tricky but it can greatly increase the chances of successful recovery.

While keeping an eye on the short and long-term abuse symptoms above can help, you can also check for the following signs and symptoms of inhalant addiction:

  • Puffy eyes
  • Increased aggression, irritability, and mood swings
  • Decline in overall motivation
  • Deterioration in performance at school or work
  • Empty containers of sprays or other inhalants in unusual places
  • Noticeable stains of inhalants on hands or clothes
  • Sores and burns around the mouth or nose
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

Inhalants Addiction Treatment Options

Now that you know more about inhalant abuse, here’s a brief overview of the most reliable treatment methods for this type of addiction.

Medical Detox Programs

Medical detox programs are usually the first stage of inhalant addiction treatment where the effects of inhalants are removed from the patient’s system.

These are typically done in safe and supervised environments for individuals to begin their recovery journey, such as rehab facilities.

While inpatient treatment is usually the common treatment method, doctors may greenlight intensive outpatient detox in milder cases.

This one allows individuals to reside at home while receiving daily check-ins and medication management under the healthcare professionals’ supervision and family support.

Doctors may also prescribe some medications to manage and reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms associated with this stage.

Behavioral Treatment Programs

Behavioral therapy is the core and primary form of long-term addiction treatment following medical detoxification.

This one addresses the underlying thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to substance use to prevent relapses. The two prominent approaches here include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:The most popular form of behavioral treatment. It helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and coping mechanisms associated with inhalant use. It also provides them with skills to manage cravings, resist triggers, and develop healthier responses to stress.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: This is a subclass of CBT and focuses mainly on emotional regulation mindfulness to help manage triggers.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a powerful support system for those battling inhalant addiction, so it’s highly recommended along with individual therapy for a complete treatment approach.

In support groups, various individuals who suffer from inhalant addiction can share experiences to learn from each other and increase awareness and accountability, while overcoming the sensation of isolation associated with addiction treatment by creating a community.

Support groups like 12-step programs also offer ongoing guidance and encouragement to maintain progress while family therapy addresses the impact of addiction on family dynamics and equips loved ones with tools to support abstinence.

Sober Living Homes

These homes provide a bridge between inpatient treatment and independent living, as they’re highly structured and regulated environments for individuals’ recovery from addiction.

Residents participate in daily routines, house meetings, and continued therapy while gradually reincorporating themselves into society to rebuild their lives.

Unlike other forms of treatment that are recommended for all levels of addiction, this one is usually optional and reserved mainly for patients who have spent so long in rehab and aren’t ready to return to their lives yet.

Relapse Prevention Plans

After a successful initial treatment, it’s crucial for individuals recovering from inhalant addiction to develop a healthy relapse prevention plan.

This plan is created with the help of a healthcare professional, which includes practicing healthy coping skills like exercise, and relaxation techniques as well as continuous support from loved ones or support groups.

Regularly reviewing and updating the plan alongside a therapist is critical to maintaining long-term recovery success.

Finding the Best Inhalant Addiction Treatment Center in Illinois

Choosing the right treatment facility for inhalant addiction is crucial for long-term and relapse-free recovery.

A reliable treatment center that will offer personalized care to address the unique needs and circumstances of each individual, as no two cases are ever the same.

Factors like age, severity of addiction, co-occurring mental health conditions, and personal preferences should always be considered when selecting a program to relieve the best possible treatment.

If you or a loved one is suffering from inhalant addiction, contact Illinois Recovery Center for immediate help from experienced professionals.

Published on: 2024-05-07
Updated on: 2024-05-07