NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Inhalants

Question 1

Inhalants, like hair spray, gasoline and spray paint can often be identified by their:

Yes! Many inhalants can be identified by their strong smell. People inhale the vapors because vapors can change the way the brain works and make people feel good for a short time.

No, Myelin is a fatty tissue that protects many of the body's nerve cells. While myelin is affected by inhalants, myelin itself is not a characteristic of inhalants.

No, Inhalants harm the brain by preventing neurons from receiving oxygen. Then the neurons may stop functioning, making it hard to remember things such as schoolwork.

No, while many inhalants are household products or art supplies, you can't really identify inhalants by their usefulness.

Question 2

Inhalant vapors may get lodged in a fatty tissue of neurons called:

Yes! Myelin is the protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve cells. When chemicals from inhalants get into the system, they can break down myelin and prevent nerve cells from transmitting messages.

No, Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter that causes the heart to beat faster. Inhalants can make the heart more sensitive to noradrenaline so that even a normal jolt of it may cause a heart to lose its rhythm or even stop.

No, This is the part of the brain that solves complex problems and plans ahead. When inhalants are ingested, nerve cell activity in the frontal cortex can be slowed. But the frontal cortex isn't a fatty tissue.

No, Polyneuropathy is a permanent change or malfunction of nerves in the back and legs that can be caused by inhalant use.

Question 3

Butane, found in cigarette lighters and refills, makes the heart extra-sensitive to:

No. Myelin is the fatty tissue that protects many of the body's nerve cells. Inhalants may deplete myelin content, but they don't make the heart more sensitive to myelin.

Correct! The chemical noradrenaline tells the heart to beat faster when you are stressed. Butane makes the heart extra-sensitive to noradrenaline so that a normal jolt of noradrenaline can cause the heart to lose rhythm or stop pumping.

No. The hippocampus, the part of the brain which is important in memory, doesn't really have an effect on the heart. Sniffing inhalants, though, does damage it. Someone who repeatedly inhales these drugs may lose the ability to learn new stuff.

No. Inhalants can actually interfere with romance by causing a person to be slow, clumsy, and uncoordinated.

Question 4

Damage from long-term use of inhalants can slow or stop nerve cell activity in some parts of the brain including:

Yup! This is the part of the brain that solves complex problems and plans ahead. If the frontal cortex is damaged, you could find yourself continuously stumped in school.

The liver is not part of the brain. But use of inhalants can cause the liver to stop working, which can lead to death.

While inhalants can slow, stop or make the heart lose rhythm, the heart isn't part of the brain.

Hardly! The gluteous maximus is Latin for your royal backside. Scientists haven't yet documented any of inhalants' effects on the rump.