Commonly found in household or workplace products such as glue, nail polish remover, cleaning fluids, markers, gasoline, paint and hairspray, teens abuse inhalants by sniffing and inhaling the fumes and gases from these easily obtained products to gain an easy “high.” In 2014, inhalant use was most common among adolescents ages 12 to 17, with about 149,000 youths who reported they were current inhalant users, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Four categories of inhalants are abused by adolescents and young children, which include volatile solvents, aerosols, gases and nitrates, and are commonly referred to as “poppers” or “snappers,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Many inhalants that are abused by young people can be found virtually anywhere:
- Art and stationary supplies – ink, paints, correction fluid, rubber cement and finishes, glues, felt-tip markers and aerosol computer cleaning products
- Beauty supplies – nail polish and its removers, deodorants and hair spray
- Automotive supplies – brake fluid, gasoline and spray lubricants
- Cooking supplies – whipped cream dispensers (called “whippets”), olive oil and vegetable oil sprays
- Cleaning supplies – aerosol air fresheners, leather cleaners, keyboard dusters and deodorizers
- Other household and commercial products – paint thinners or removers, contact cement, varnishes, dry-cleaning fluids, lighter fluid, degreasers, butane lighters and propane tanks
- Medical products – medical anesthetics such as nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” chloroform, halothane, butyl nitrite and amyl nitrite
With the availability of inhalants, it’s easy for anyone to obtain and abuse these supplies. Due to their cheapness and accessibility, it is not surprising that the majority of inhalant abusers are teens.