These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions here.

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what are poppers ?

-mmajnao, Texas

Poppers are a slang term for a class of inhalants known as nitrites. Nitrites enhance sexual experiences by dilating and relaxing blood vessels. Inhalants are chemicals found in ordinary household or workplace products that people inhale on purpose to get "high." Because many inhalants can be found around the house, people often don’t realize that inhaling their fumes, even just once, can be very harmful to the brain and body and can lead to death. In fact, the chemicals found in these products can change the way the brain works and cause other problems in the body. Learn more about poppers and other inhalants here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants

-Mary Kautz

What disease can inhalants cause?

-KWu, Texas

Inhalant abuse can cause brain, respiratory/pulmonary, and cardiovascular heath consequences. Visit https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants for more information.

-Jag Khalsa

What will inhalants do to a fetus?

-jcalzada, Texas

Hello jcalzada,

Inhalants are especially dangerous because they are developed for commercial purposes with no intent for them to be ingested. They may contain many different chemicals that can cause misdevelopment of the fetal brain, toxic affects to other fetal (or maternal) organs, and miscarriage. There is more information here: https://www.addiction.com/6656/brain-damage-inhalants-preganacy/

-Roger Little

how does everyday inhalants affect you

-xlopez, Texas

Inhalants can cause effects similar to alcohol, hallucinations and believing something that isn't true. They can cause damage to a persons brain or their nerve fibers. They also can cause sudden sniffing death, which is when the heart beats fast and irregularly and suddenly stops and suffocation, which is when air is blocked from getting into the lungs. This means that you can die very quickly from inhalants - in a matter of minutes. For more info, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Will Aklin

are inhalants more dangerous than smoking?

-ACarpenter, Texas

Inhalants can kill you from a respiratory or cardiac complication right away while you are using it. Tobacco can kill you after many years of use because of cancer other other pulmonary or cardiac negative effects.

-Nora Volkow

how fast can you die from inhalants?

-emorejon, Texas

Inhalants are drugs that you breath in, which means they take the place of oxygen. They can cause sudden sniffing death, which is when the heart beats fast and irregularly and suddenly stops. They also can cause suffocation, which is when air is blocked from getting into the lungs. And they can also cause a person to go into a coma. All this means that you can die very quickly from inhalants - in a matter of minutes. For more info, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Will Aklin

Are inhalants as prevalent now as before? Are they more popular than the weed, or less?

-Rin2Deep4U, Massachusetts

Hello. Inhalants are extremely dangerous and fortunately inhalant use decreased among 8th graders this year compared with last year, and overall inhalant use has been decreasing over time. Marijuana use is more prevalent among youth than inhalant use. For more information on youth use of inhalants, marijuana and other drugs, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-fu...

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Can doing inhalants permanently damage your body from doing daily activities?

-imoeez, Texas

Hi Imoeez

YES ! Sniffing glue or other volitile chemicals like gasoline, paint, permanent markers, or other aerosols is extremely dangerous. These drugs damage the brain and lungs, and the damage may be irreversible. Even when you are using a volatile chemical for its intended purpose, you should always wear a protective mask.
There's more info here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Belinda Sims

yesterday i was put on laughing gas .... is that the same feeling as getting high ? could laghing gas kill you?

-rigsby, Texas

Hi Size,
Great question. Laughing gas is nitrous oxide, an inhalant that is sometimes abused to get high. It could definitely kill you -- that's why doctors are specially trained in how to give exactly the right amount.

-Eric Wargo

why are people so dumb to try inhalants drugs?

-athomas, Texas

hey athomas, I don't know, it definitely doesn't seem worth it!

-Maureen Boyle

What do people see or do while there asleep from inhalants???

-Jmurray, Texas

if and when you pass out after inhalant use, you pass out... you dont see anything, it's not a trip. its more like the experience of being wasted after an alcohol binge.

-Ruben Baler

why is huffing glue bad for you?

-$cami$, Maryland

Hey $cami$- Using inhalants (like huffing glue) can cause nausea or vomiting, as well as more serious long-term consequences including brain damage and even death. For more facts on these inhalant substances, check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Emily Einstein

Can you get high off a highlighter

-summit10142, New Jersey

I wouldn't try it. Some highlighters are made with water based chemicals and can't really make you very high. However, some with permanent ink--or markers like Sharpies--- contain volatile solvents—and when inhaled these solvents can produce a "high." The effects of inhalants (including Sharpies) can be similar to those of alcohol and include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalants can be very dangerous, particularly in children, some of whom have been known to die after a single session of inhaling chemical fumes. For more information on inhalants, visit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Carol Krause

Do you get hjgh immediately after inhaling products?

-bhong, Texas

The chemicals in inhalants reach the brain very quickly, so the chemical influence is rapid. Inhalant use is very dangerous, even if it doesn't seem to be a big deal. Some common household products used as inhalants to get high can have permanent effects, including hearing loss, central nervous system or brain damage, bone marrow damage, and possibly death from heart failure or suffocation. Inhalants prevent oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells. Read more at teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Michelle Leff

Is sniffing sharpies addicting?

-hgf, New York

Thanks for asking this question, hgf: Sniffing the fumes from Sharpies or other types of products can be dangerous and addicting. Sharpies contain volatile solvents—and when inhaled these solvents can produce a "high." The effects of inhalants (including Sharpies) can be similar to those of alcohol and include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalants can be very dangerous, particularly in children, some of whom have been known to die after a single session of inhaling chemical fumes. I've attached a link with more information on inhalants, visit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Michael Baumann

Which is worse - Taking prescriptions (Opiods) or Inhaling?

-Cheshire Cat, Colorado

Yikes, what a comparison!!! And I'm assuming you mean taking prescription drugs in some inappropriate way. Both very bad. Almost 20,000 people died from prescription opioid overdose in 2015. Not nearly as many people died from inhalants, but far fewer people use inhalants. And while inhalant deaths are relatively rare, inhalants can cause oxygen to not get to the brain and produce severe brain damage. So -- both can be really dangerous. Take a look at this: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescript... And this: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/inhalants

-Dave Thomas

i heard sucking the gas out of whipped cream cans makes you high is this true and why

-aye, New York

Hi Aye,

Yes, it is true, but it can be very dangerous. Cans of whipped cream contain the gas nitric oxide (nitrous). Although nitrous is used medically as a supplement to anesthesia, inhaling nitrous can be very dangerous outside of medical use. One reason is that nitrous competes for oxygen in your blood, so the high you get is really because you are starving your brain and body for oxygen. If you don't have enough oxygen in your body, you can die. Another dangerous result is that you can get dizzy and fall down, risking broken bones, concussion, or other injuries.

-Belinda Sims

what happens if you snort scented markers

-jhadjandjand, Iowa

Hey jhad - scented markers are a type of inhalant that can be very harmful. People occasionally snort these for the "high" that they can produce, but inhalants are potentially addictive and the chemicals in them can cause brain damage (loss of brain tissue, impaired thinking, loss of coordination, limb spasms, hearing and vision loss), liver and kidney damage, and (rarely) can cause death. For more facts on inhalants, check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Emily Einstein

what is worse spray paint or sharpie?

-James , New York

Both are horrible! Sniffing concentrated fumes from chemical substances like these can cause many health problems, including liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, or bone marrow damage. Effects may also include loss of coordination and limb spasms due to damage to myelin—a protective sheathing around nerve fibers that helps nerves transmit messages in the brain and peripheral nervous system. Inhalants can also cause brain damage by cutting off oxygen flow to the brain. They can damage your heart and occasionally can be fatal. To read more about inhalants, check out: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants.

-Jeff Schulden

what is the number one gate way drug?

-miguels, California

Good question, miguels, The drugs that youth start to use include: marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and inhalants. These are typically the first drugs used by youth.

-Wilson Compton

How are markers and redid-whip an inhalant?

-ahuynh, Texas
Inhalants are chemical vapors that people inhale on purpose to get “high,” and these vapors produce mind-altering, and sometimes disastrous, effects. Markers and redi-whip containers fall into this catergory. Although inhalants differ in their effects, generally, long-term inhalant use can break down myelin, which are the insulating sheaths that surround brain cells allowing them to function properly. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending over, and talking. Hope this helps and for more information on inhalants, check out the fact sheet on our teen site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants
-Albert Avila

a few months ago i was visiting my sister at college and we were eating at the mall. We saw a man sitting on the bench inhaling a can of keyboard cleaner, he was shaking and almost near the edge of the bench. Later on he was on the floor with his eyes closed, then we called 911 and the paramedics took him to the hospital. If we are ever in this situation by our selves what is the best thing to do? And why did he shake?

-JKV, Illinois

Dear JKV - wow, that sounds like a very scary situation. I think you and your sister did the right thing - to call 911 right away. If you were by yourselves, I think you should still seek emergency medical treatment first. Some chemicals, when inhaled, can affect both the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nerve (from the spinal cord) systems. It sounds like he had some bad effect from the inhaled chemical - either seizure activity or some peripheral nerve problem (like tetany). You can learn more about inhalants at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Michelle Leff

can you get high on stuff you you buy at the local suppermartket

-k,hajee, Texas

Hey k,hajee- sometimes kids will inhale household products to try to get high, though fewer people try this now than used to in the past. Chemicals people inhale can be pretty nasty and can cause nausea or vomiting, as well as more serious long-term consequences including brain damage and even death. For more facts on these inhalant substances, check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Emily Einstein

is sniffing glue bad?

-HDumont, New Hampshire

Hi HDumont,

YES ! Sniffing glue or other volitile chemicals like gasoline, paint, permanent markers, and other aerosols are extremely dangerous. These drugs clearly damage the brain, and the damage may be irreversible. Even when you are using a volatile chemical for its intended purpose, you should always wear a protective mask.
There's more info here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Belinda Sims

What are the negatives of huffing glue.

-ahernandez, Illinois

Huffing glue can depress the central nervous system---similar to alcohol---—including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers may also experience light-headedness, hallucinations, and delusions. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache.There are report of people dying from huffing, sometimes instantly.You can find more info here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants

-Michele Rankin

Can a drug make you sexually active?

-1221, Other

not too many drugs do that directly. but many drugs (like alcohol or marijuana) will lower your inhibition or self control. There is one class of drugs that is purportedly used as a sexual enhancer. that is nirtrites, aka poppers.

-Ruben Baler

Is it true you can get high off of computer duster

-Summit 11705, New Jersey

Hi Summit 11705,
Great question: Yes, it is possible. Computer duster is an "inhalant," a class of household products that contain fumes that cause a person to feel high, very briefly. Inhalants are super dangerous--they not only actually destroy brain cells but also can stop your heart instantly. Lots of kids die from doing this.

-Eric Wargo

What is the most common age to start doing drugs

-sbaston, New Hampshire

Hi sbaston. The average age at which youth begin to use drugs is different for each drug. Among people who started using drugs before age 18, the average ages were 13-14 for inhalants and 15 for alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

what is the top used inhalents

-hszanto, Texas

Hi, hszanto, thanks for your question. While we don't rank them, the most commonly used inhalants fall into one of 4 categories:

Volatile solvents (e.g. paint thinner, gasoline, nail polish remover, marker fluid) are liquids that become a gas at room temperature.

Aerosols (e.g. spray paint, hairspray) are sprays that contain propellants and solvents.

Gases (e.g. butane, propane, whipped cream dispensers, refrigerant, nitrous oxide, ether) may be in household or commercial products, or used in the medical field to provide pain relief.

Nitrites (e.g. leather cleaners, room deodorizers, video head cleaner). Previously, amyl nitrite was used in the past by doctors to help with chest pain and is sometimes used today to diagnose heart problems, but are now prohibited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission but can still be found and misused.

For more information check out our website https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Marsha Lopez

If a inhalant was to be inhald and it were to stop brain function how long could you survive without nerve receptors responding to you invyroment? -Chris

-GHS, Massachusetts

The brain can only survive for about 4 minutes after someone stops breathing, but it can sustain serious damage in even a couple of minutes without oxygen, so there is risk of brain damage with any interruption in normal breathing. Inhalants are extremely dangerous because they are often for commercial applications and not designed or tested for safety for human ingestion. There is a long list of the toxicities associated with these drugs, including death. Inhalants can also amplify the effects of other drugs that depress heart and breathing activity, including opiates, heroin, and prescription pain relievers. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth

-Roger Little

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