Inhalant Abuse

02 Sep 2017

Help your child understand the risks


Inhaling fumes form a seemingly harmless tube of glue is potentially deadly. Help your child understand the risks of glue-sniffing.

Inhaling fumes form a seemingly harmless tube of glue is potentially deadly. Help your child understand the risks of glue-sniffing.

What's so dangerous about a harmless tube of glue? Plenty.

Sniffing glue can give a quick high. The phenomenon is known as inhalant abuse.

Inhalants are inexpensive and commonly available in grocery stores, hardware stores and stationery shops. Kids can easily conceal the products in their jackets, backpacks, closets or dresser drawers. What they do not realise is that the risks of inhalant abuse are real and it can be potentially lethal.

What are inhalants?

Inhalants are ordinary household products, such as glue and paint thinner. Deliberately sniffing or inhaling concentrated amounts of these products can produce a quick, powerful high, usually by depressing the central nervous system.

Kids who abuse inhalants often sniff them by snorting fumes from containers. Sometimes fumes are inhaled from soft drink cans, rags or plastic bags.

Stop inhalant abuse in its tracks

Look for these warning signs of inhalant abuse*:

  • Sudden loss of interest in friends, sports or hobbies
  • Abrupt changes in school performance
  • Sores or a rash around the mouth or nose
  • Chemical smell on the breath, clothes or in the bedroom
  • Nausea and/or loss of appetite, or sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue or extreme mood swings
  • Hiding or possessing soft drink cans, containers, rags, or plastic bags with a chemical smell
  • Chronic inhalant abusers will also encounter hallucinations, anxiety, excitability, irritability, restlessness or anger

*These signs do not indicate a definite involvement in inhalant abuse.

Prevent inhalant abuse

As a parent, your stand on any form of inhalant abuse makes a difference. Start talking - today.

  • Discuss the risks.
    Open discussion can help prevent a tragedy. Talk about what products may be abused and slang terms for inhalants. State the facts clearly, emphasizing that inhalants are deadly chemicals and poisons - not a harmless way to get high.
  • Be a good listener.
    Encourage your child to come to you with questions or concerns.
  • Set expectations.
    Let your child know that you won't tolerate inhalant abuse. Remind your child that you love him or her - and safety comes first.
  • Stay involved.
    Meet your child's friends. Know where your child is and what he or she is doing - especially after school. Support your child's efforts to resist peer pressure.

If you discover your child abusing inhalants, seek professional help. Start with your child's doctor, a school counselor or a voluntary welfare organisation. The support of a mental health professional may be valuable as well. With help, your child can learn how to make healthy choices for a lifetime.

Effects & Dangers of Inhalant Abuse

  • Permanent damage to brain, liver and kidneys
  • Prone to bleeding and bruises
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty in learning and seeing things clearly
  • Loss of control of body
  • Cramps, pains and bad cough