inhalants_1SLANG TERMS

  • laughing gas
  • rush
  • whippets
  • poppers
  • snappers

Inhalants are breathable chemicals that produce mind-altering vapors. People do not think of inhalants as drugs because most of the products were never meant to be used that way. Inhalants are ingested by “sniffing” or”snorting” (through the nose), “bagging” (inhaling fumes from a plastic bag), or”huffing” (stuffing an inhalant soaked rag into the mouth).


Nearly all inhalants produce effects similar to anesthetics, which act to slow down body functions, yet the user feels stimulated. Other effects may include:

  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • bad breath
  • double vision
  • runny or bloody nose
  • lack of coordination
  • feeling and looking tired
  • eye irritation
  • sneezing, coughing
  • vomiting, diarrhea
  • headache
  • chest pain
  • ringing in ears
  • erratic heart beat


  • hand tremors
  • less concern about appearance
  • sores/rash around mouth and nose
  • fatigue, muscle fatigue
  • weight loss
  • electrolyte (salt) imbalance
  • cardiac arrest
  • permanent damage to nervous system
  • brain, liver, kidney, blood, and bone marrow damage
  • impaired respiratory system
  • impaired coordination and intelligence
  • death by asphyxiation/suffocation


Psychological effects occur rapidly because the substance travels directly to the brain after passing through the lungs and the left side of the heart. Other effects are:

  • anxiety, irritability or excitability
  • poor memory, confusion
  • moody, restless activity
  • lack of concentration
  • aggressive behavior


There are about 1400 products potentially usable as inhalants.

  • Volatile solvents: gasoline, paint thinners, glue, cleaning solutions, etc.
  • Aerosols: spray paints, etc.
  • Anesthetic agents: chloroform, ether, oil and grease dissolvers.
  • Amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites: such as room fresheners.


The substances in solvents can pass through the placental barrier and enter the fetal bloodstream. However, except for evidence of birth defects among petrol inhalers, the evidence that use of other inhalants or solvents can damage the fetus is inconclusive. All drugs have some effects on the unborn child including chromosomal and fetal damage.