Between 1994 and 2000, the number of new inhalant users increased more than 50 percent, from 618,000 new users in 1994 to 979,000 in 2000. These estimates were higher than a previous peak in 1978 (662,000 new users).
In 2001, approximately 2.0 million (8.6 percent) youths aged 12 to 17 had used inhalants at some time in their lives. Although there were no observed differences in rates of inhalant use between 2000 and 2001 among youths, the proportion of persons aged 26 or older reporting inhalant use increased from 6.4 to 7.1 percent.
Effects: stimulation, loss of inhibition; headache; nausea or vomiting; slurred speech, loss of motor coordination; wheezing/unconsciousness, cramps, weight loss, muscle weakness, depression, memory impairment, damage to cardiovascular and nervous systems, sudden death
Inhalants pass through the lungs and quickly enter the bloodstream, then they reach the brain in seconds. Inhalant vapors react with fatty tissue in the brain, literally dissolving them. So, chronic inhalant abusers may permanently lose the ability to walk, talk and think. Inhalants also slow down the body's reactions and distort the thinking process. The effects last only a few moments and when they wear off, the user may be irritable and depressed.
Users can develop a psychological dependence on inhalants. However, research suggests that the risk of physical dependence is relatively small. Withdrawal symptoms are usually mild, but can include depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, dizziness, tremors and nausea.