These are products that give off a gas or fumes.  They make you feel light-headed and giddy when you inhale them.  At larger doses they can make a person act and feel as if they have been drinking alcohol.  The effects only last for a few minutes, so a person may use them over and over again to keep feeling high.

The 4 Kinds of Inhalants are:

  1. Volatile Solvents (e.g. gas, paint thinner, glue)

  2. Spray Cans (e.g. cooking spray, hairspray)

  3. Gases (e.g. laughing gas, butane)

  4. Nitrites (e.g. video head cleaners, room odourizers)

People use inhalants in many ways.  For example, solvents are usually "bagged."  People put them in a bag, close the bag around their mouth and nose and then breathe in the fumes.  Some inhalants are "huffed" - people pour the inhalant onto a cloth, hold the cloth up to their face ad breathe in the fumes.  Gases used for medical purposes are kept in tanks or dispensers.  They are inhaled through tubes or balloons.  Nitrites are usually "sniffed."  They are either inhaled directly from the small glass tubes they come in or huffed from a cloth (for more information, see "Here to Help).

The use of inhalants is especially popular among 10 - 16 year olds.  They are legal and easy to find (often around the house), and the effects are short term.

The effect depends on which inhalant is used and how much.

Short Term Effects

  • Faster heart rate

  • Watering eyes, running nose

  • Sneezing, coughing

  • Seeing or believing things that aren't there (Hallucinations, delusions)

  • Slurred speech

  • Problems with coordination

  • Dizzy, light headed

  • Feelings of joy and euphoria

  • Less inhibited and may say or do things you usually wouldn't

  • Sleepy

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Blackouts

  • Weak muscles

  • Headache

  • Slow reflexes

  • Hostile and ready to fight

  • Apathetic, don't care

  • Confused, delirious (at high doses)

Long Term Effects

  • Loss of weight

  • Low red blood cell count (Anaemia)

  • Weak muscles

  • Confused and disoriented

  • Problems with coordination

  • Depressed, grouchy and irritable

Withdrawal Effects

People do not seem to become physically dependent on inhalants.  But it is possible to become psychologically dependent and think you need to keep taking them.  Heavy users could experience some of these mild withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Not hungry

  • Shaky, tremors

  • Nausea

  • See things that aren't there - hallucinate

  • Chills

  • Aggressive

  • Restless

BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.