Teen Inhalant Abuse – Tips for Parents



Teens tend to experiment. They can be curious, creative, and rambunctious. If your teen is used to getting a high from alcohol or other drugs, they might explore the medicine cabinet in your home. They might even try looking beneath the kitchen sink for something they can use to get high.


Forms of Inhalants

Different forms of inhalants used to get high include:

  • glue
  • gasoline
  • nail polish remover
  • shoe polish
  • paint and paint thinner
  • aerosol products
  • correction fluid


Teens might also try solvents, paints, and other items found in the garage. As you can imagine, anything your teen uses for a quick high are legal, but extremely dangerous, even leading to death with the first use.


Effects of Teen Inhalant Abuse

Teen inhalant abuse peaked in the 1990’s, it continues to be a problem among teens. The effects of inhaling these products can last from 15-30 minutes and create a feeling of euphoria. However,  damaging effects include:

  • a rapid heart rate
  • central nervous system problems
  • spasms in limbs
  • brain damage
  • hearing loss


Although these can result in those who use inhalants regularly, they can also appear after first time use.


What Parents Can Do to Help

The use of teen inhalant abuse isn’t discussed regularly in the media, in school, or at home. However, they are being abused by teens, leading to severe consequences including death. Communicating with your child about teen inhalant abuse, and other drugs, can obviously support your teen’s well being and possibly even save their life!


Here are some tips to consider for preventing substance use in your teen:


  • All inhalants, such as solvents and aerosols need to be locked away.
  • Talk with their teen about the use of inhalants and their dangers.
  • Be specific about the effects of the inhalants, including how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause.
  • Keep the tone of your discussions calm.
  • Let your teen know that you disapprove. Most teens who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use.
  • Set a good example for your teen by being responsible with substances such as alcohol and taking prescribed medication.
  • Lock your medicine cabinet and keep your teen safe from prescription drugs. And if there is no longer a need for certain drugs, throw them away.
  • If there is a history of addiction in the family, considering adopting a strict no-drinking/no-drug policy.
  • If you know that your teen is vulnerable to substance use (because of mental illness, social contacts, or a family history), keep discussions with your teen open, honest, and real, especially as he or she gets older.
  • Have your teen invite friends to keep an eye on him or her so that the allure of using inhalants doesn’t tempt them.
  • Encourage your teen to stay communicative with you so that they’re comfortable telling you what they’re doing. This will also be a way of being held accountable to a substance-free lifestyle.


These are tips to help your teen stay safe and avoid substances wherever possible. If your teen continues to use inhalants and other substances, consider seeking professional help for more support.