The course of inhalant abuse and dependence differs somewhat depending on the affected person's age. Younger children who are dependent on or abuse inhalants use them regularly, especially on weekends and after school. As children get older, they often stop using inhalants. They may stop substance use altogether or they may move on to other substances. Adults who abuse or are dependent on inhalants may use inhalants regularly for years. They may also frequently "binge" on inhalants (i.e., using them much more frequently for shorter periods of time). This pattern of use can go on for years.
The use of inhalants and subsequent dependence on the substance occurs among people who do not have access to other drugs or are otherwise isolated (such as prison inmates). Also, as with other substance use disorders, people who have greater access to inhalants are more likely to develop dependence on them. This group of people may include workers in industrial settings with ready access to inhalants.
Comprehensive prevention programs that involve families, schools, communities, and the media (such as television) can be effective in reducing substance abuse. The recurring theme in these programs is to stay away from drugs in the first place, which is the primary method of ensuring that one does not develop a substance use disorder.
Parents can help prevent the misuse of inhalants by educating their children about the negative effects of inhalant use. Both teachers and parents can help prevent inhalant abuse and dependence by recognizing the signs of inhalant use, which include chemical odors on the child's breath or clothes; slurred speech; a drunken or disoriented appearance; nausea or lack of appetite; and inattentiveness and lack of coordination.
See also Polysubstance abuse
Jennifer Hahn Ph.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,