Inhalants produce a quick but destructive high. Many of them are household products, easily available over the counter or in cupboards at home and at work. Solvents, sprays, adhesives and even empty aerosol cans of paint or whipping cream are some of the inhalants of choice used by children, teenagers and adults of both sexes. Among teenagers, girls are hooked on to inhalant addiction more often and earlier than boys. Among adults, the numbers for inhalant addiction are about even, but there are some disturbing trends that are affecting women even more than men.
Women, Cocaine and Inhalants
One of these trends is replacement addiction, which means that a person who is recovering from one addiction may become addicted to something else. Recent studies have shown that more women recovering from cocaine addiction are turning to inhalants as they struggle with cravings. Doctors discovered that these women were sniffing cleaning products, and even canned computer dust sprays. Women with inhalant addiction are also more likely to be in their mid-30s, single, divorced or widowed, and in financial difficulty. When prescription drugs or illegal street drugs are too expensive, the substitute is more likely to be an inhalant like nail polish remover, gasoline or even deodorant spray.
Inhalants and Pregnancy Problems
It is common knowledge that pregnant women aren’t supposed to drink or smoke because it can affect the baby. The same holds true with inhalant addiction. Even one instance of inhalant abuse by a pregnant woman can cause irregular heartbeat, brain damage or death of the developing baby. With continued use, birth defects and developmental disabilities can occur at higher rates. There’s even a name for it: solvent syndrome. If a woman who has just had a baby abuses inhalants, the toxins get to the baby through breast milk, causing learning disabilities, behavioral difficulties and neurological problems.
Long Term Effects for Women
In general women have more fatty tissue in their bodies than men do. Fat stores toxins, and they build up in the body faster. Organs like the liver and kidneys which filter and remove toxins work harder and become overwhelmed. Recovery from inhalants also takes longer for women because the toxins take longer to clear. Other long term effects include lung damage, sinus damage and skin disorders. Mental illness is also on the list, with depression, anxiety, mood swings and loss of problem-solving skills.
Overall, women suffer the same ill effects from inhalants that men do, and some of them are worse. Statistics show us that inhalant addiction is rising among adults 18 and over. Early intervention and treatment are ideal, but treatment can begin at any stage of inhalant addiction. The important thing is to get started, and be informed. If you suspect that someone you know is using inhalants, there are a few ways to recognize the symptoms. A chemical odor on the breath or skin, sores around the nose and mouth, behavioral changes like nodding off, irritability or anxiety are all danger signs to watch for.
Once the problem is identified, seek treatment for your loved one immediately. A good way to get started is to call our hotline at 800-890-3586. This toll-free number is staffed by compassionate, knowledgeable people who can help. Call now, and help your loved one begin the journey toward a healthier, substance-free life!