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Last updated : December 10, 2018
Inhalants are common household, industrial and medical products that produce vapours, which some people inhale (breathe in) to make them feel intoxicated or high.1
Some common inhalants include:
Glue, gas, gasoline, sniff, huff, chroming, poppers.
Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth.
They may be sprayed into a plastic bag, poured into a bottle or soaked onto a cloth or sleeve before being inhaled.
Sometimes they are inhaled directly from the container or are sprayed directly into the mouth or nose. This method is very dangerous because it can cause suffocation.2
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Inhalants affect everyone differently, based on:
Sniffing can cause:
Sniffing is always risky, but some situations make it even more dangerous:
If you inhale a substance many times or use a particularly strong inhalant, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police.
Inhaling aerosol sprays, cleaning and correction fluids, and model aeroplane cement has been known to cause sudden death. It is believed that chemicals in these products can cause heart failure, particularly if the person is stressed or does heavy exercise after inhaling. This is very rare.3
Unleaded petrol has been replaced by low aromatic fuels such as BP’s Opal fuel in some rural and remote communities in Australia. Sniffing low aromatic fuels does not produce a high, but can still cause damage to a person’s health including death.5
See Reducing harms of fuel inhalation with low aromatic fuel.
In the days after inhalant use, you may experience:
Regular use of inhalants may eventually cause:
Most of these long-term effects can be reversed if use is stopped. However, some inhalants, such as cleaning products, correction fluid, aerosol sprays and petrol can cause permanent damage.4
Some chemicals can build up in the body and damage the stomach, intestines, brain, nervous system, kidneys and liver. 1,4
The effects of taking inhalants with other drugs – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could include:
Giving up inhalants after using them for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without them. Withdrawal symptoms usually start 24-48 hours after the last use, and may last for 2 to 5 days.4 These symptoms can include: