Skip Navigation

Link to  the National Institutes of Health NIDA NEWS NIDA News RSS Feed
The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Keep Your Body Healthy
Go to the Home pageGo to the About Nida pageGo to the News pageGo to the Meetings & Events pageGo to the Funding pageGo to the Publications page
PhysiciansResearchersParents/TeachersStudents/Young AdultsEn Español Drugs of Abuse & Related Topics

NIDA Home > Publications > Research Reports    

NIDA Research Report

Inhalant Abuse

From the Director

Although many parents are appropriately concerned about illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and LSD, they often ignore the dangers posed to their children from common household products that contain volatile solvents or aerosols. Products such as glues, nail polish remover, lighter fluid, spray paints, deodorant and hair sprays, whipped cream canisters, and cleaning fluids are widely available. Many young people inhale the vapors from these sources in search of quick intoxication without being aware of the serious health consequences that can result.

National surveys indicate that more than 22.9 million Americans have abused inhalants at least once in their lives. NIDA's Monitoring the Future study reveals that 17.3 percent of eighth-graders have abused inhalants. Parents and children need to know that experimentation with these substances should not be taken lightly. Even a single session of repeated inhalant abuse can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation. Regular abuse of these substances can result in serious harm to vital organs including the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver.

Through scientific research, we have learned much about the nature and extent of inhalant abuse, its pharmacology, and its consequences. This research has brought the picture of inhalant abuse in our Nation into focus and pointed to the dangers and the warning signs for parents, educators, and clinicians. We hope this compilation of the latest scientific information will help alert readers to inhalant abuse and its harmful effects and aid efforts to deal with this problem effectively.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse


Get Adobe Reader

This report is also available in PDF format, Inhalant Abuse, [PDF format]

Also Available in Spanish

All materials appearing in the Research Reports Series are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated.

To obtain printed copies of this report, please call or write the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information, P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20852, 1-800-729-6686. NIDA Research Report - Inhalant Abuse: NIH Publication No. 00-3818, Printed 1994, Reprinted 1996, 1999. Revised July, 2000, Revised 2005. 2407313times since 9/12/00.


Letter from the Director

What are inhalants?

What are the patterns of inhalant abuse?

What is the scope of inhalant abuse?

How are inhalants used?

How do inhalants produce their effects?

What are the short- and long-term effects of inhalant use?

What are the medical consequences of inhalant abuse?

What are the special risks for nitrite abusers?

Where can I get further scientific information about inhalant abuse?

Glossary and References


Inhalant Abuse Research Report Cover

NIDA Home | Site Map | Search | FAQs | Accessibility | Privacy | FOIA (NIH) | Employment | Print Version

National Institutes of Health logo_Department of Health and Human Services Logo The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Questions? See our Contact Information. Last updated on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. The U.S. government's official web portal