Skip Navigation

Link to  the National Institutes of Health  
The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Archives of the National Institute on Drug Abuse web site
Go to the Home page

Side Border

These are the facts about three drugs commonly abused.


Many common household products contain chemicals that, when inhaled, produce a drunken-like state. According to a recent HHS survey, approximately one out of five eighth-graders reported using inhalants to get high at least once in their lives.

Most inhalants are extremely toxic to the body's organs. Inhalant use may cause neural damage - leading to the loss of reasoning ability as well psychological and social problems. Significant damage to the liver and kidneys may also occur. Some inhalants may cause sudden death due to heartbeat irregularities.

Users of inhalants may have a sense of lightheadedness and experience vivid fantasies. Long-term users often lose weight have nosebleeds, mouth sores, and are irritable or depressed. Nausea, vomiting and extreme salivation are common side effects. The table below fists common household products that are used as inhalants.


Recent surveys by HHS show that tobacco use among eighth graders has increased 34 percent since 1991, despite the fact that the health consequences of tobacco use are well-documented.

Teen tobacco users risk addiction, which can lead to heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, and cancers of the mouth, just to name a few of tobacco's dangers.

Research shows that young people may not understand these long-term health effects. If the health message doesn't register with teens you know, you may also point out that tobacco decreases their stamma, stains their teeth, wrinkles their skin, and gives them bad breath.

If you know children or teens who smoke cigarettes to demonstrate their independence, point out that tobacco's active ingredient - nicotine - is a highly addictive substance. Smokers may continue using tobacco even if they know its dangers. Instead of being "independent" they are slaves to a dirty, unhealthy habit.


Marijuana is smoked as cigarettes, in pipes, or baked into food. The main active ingredient in marijuana, from the hemp plant, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Marijuana leaves the body slowly. The effects of smoking a cigarette last for hours, so someone who smokes at night may still be under the drug's influence the following morning.

There are some tell-tale signs of marijuana use. Someone who has smoked a single marijuana cigarette may be in a talkative, outgoing mood and have food cravings. This is often followed by a period of sleepiness. Users often show signs of paranoia. Marijuana also impairs coordination, concentration, and short-term memory.

Heavy users may smoke several marijuana cigarettes a day. High doses can produce hallucinations. Long-term use may lead to a lack of energy, motivation, and impairment of memory. These effects may linger even after the user stops using the drug.

In recent studies, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found that daily inhalation of one to three marijuana cigarettes appears to produce approximately the same lung and cancer risks as smoking five times as many tobacco cigarettes. As with tobacco, lung damage and the risk of cancer are significant hazards of marijuana use.

Key Message About Drugs

It is important to convey clear and consistent messages about drugs and drug abuse. Here are the five key points to this program:

Message 1

Drugs are dangerous and unhealthy. They harm your body and can ruin your life. Young people should not use them.

Message 2

Not everyone uses drugs. In fact, most young Americans do not use drugs.

Message 3

Drugs can harm your entire body. A drug that changes how you feel - by causing a reaction in the brain - can also produce other effects (often harmful) on other parts of the body.

Message 4

The more you take drugs, the more you harm yourself. The harmful effects of drugs increase when drugs are taken repeatedly.

Message 5

Do something positive instead of taking drugs. There are ways to enjoy yourself that make your life better, not worse.

Types of InhalentsProduct
Adhesivesmodel airplane glue, other glues, special elements
Aerosolsspray paint, hair spray, deodorant, air freshener
Cleaning Agentsdry cleaning fluid, spot remover, degreasers
Food Productswhipped cream aerosols
Solvents and Gasesnail polish remover, paint remover, correction fluid, lighter fluid

[Page 1] [Page 2] [Page 4]

Archive Home | Accessibility | Privacy | FOIA (NIH) | Current NIDA Home Page
National Institutes of Health logo_Department of Health and Human Services Logo The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Questions? See our Contact Information. . The U.S. government's official web portal