Legal household ingredients or industrial chemicals are often used as inhalants, but a certain inhalants are specifically intended to be used as recreational drugs. Inhalants can be classified according to their chemical structures:

  • Aliphatic hydrocarbons – generally petroleum products, such as butane, gasoline, kerosene and propane.
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons – industrial chemicals such as toluene and xylene.
  • Haloalkanes – include many aerosols and propellants, such as chlorofluorocarbon, hydrofluorocarbons, trichloroethylene and 1,1,1-Trichloroethane.
  • Ketones – Acetone is a common inhalant found in nail polish remover.
  • Nitrites – Nitrites include nitrous oxide, which is commonly used in dentistry as a general anesthesia, while amyl nitrite is a recreational drug that’s typically inhaled.

The primary effect of inhalants depends on the specific substance. A small amount of paint thinner or rubber cement can produce an intoxicating effect similar to that of alcohol.

Other inhalants can produce hallucinations, distortions in time, and radical emotions.  The inhalant can cause harmful effects by itself, but other chemicals in the product can also produce adverse effects.

Treatment for inhalant abuse depends upon several factors, such as age and gender of the individual, the length and severity of the individual’s addiction, the types of inhalants being abused, along with other substance abuse, and the presence of any other health issues.