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Short-Term Effects of Inhalants

Although the chemical substances found in inhalants may produce various pharmacological effects, most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication, with initial excitation followed by drowsiness, disinhibition, lightheadedness, and agitation. If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce anesthesia—a loss of sensation—and can lead to unconsciousness.

Inhaled nitrites dilate blood vessels, increase heart rate, and produce a sensation of heat and excitement that can last for several minutes. Other effects can include:

  • Flush
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lethargy
  • Depressed reflexes
  • General muscle weakness
  • Stupor

The chemicals found in solvents, aerosol sprays, and gases can produce a variety of additional effects during or shortly after use. These effects are related to inhalant intoxication and may include:

  • Belligerence
  • Apathy
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired functioning in work or social situations
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Confusion & delirium, with exposure to high doses

Health Effects ›