Cite this article

NIDA. (2005, January 1). NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin - Inhalants. Retrieved from

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What are Inhalants?

Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects. Although other abused substances can be inhaled, the term "inhalants" is used to describe a variety of substances whose main common characteristic is that they are rarely, if ever, taken by any route other than inhalation. Many young people breathe the vapors from these products hoping for a quick high, unaware of the serious health consequences of their actions. 

Common household inhalant products:

  • nail polish remover
  • spray paint and glue
  • lighter fluid
  • hair and deodorant sprays
  • cleaning fluid
  • whipped cream canisters

Common medical/industrial inhalant products: 

  • gasoline
  • dry cleaning fluid
  • nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • paint thinner
  • paint remover