Detecting Inhalant Abuse

Inhaling Fumes

It can be hard to tell when a person is abusing inhalants. The signs might be very small. You might only notice the debris they leave behind or you may notice changes in their appearance or behavior. It may take being a detective and tracking down the real reason for changes.

Signs to watch for:

  • Finding a stash of potential inhalants in an unusual place
  • Missing products that can be used for inhaling
  • Empty containers (often under a bed) of inhalant-type products
  • Changes in behavior
  • Poor appetite
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Drop in grades
  • Poor hygiene or grooming
  • Weight loss
  • Sores on face, in mouth or in nose
  • Eczema on face
  • Confusion
  • Poor concentration
  • Paranoia
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Traces of paint on a person’s face or body
  • Rags, cloth or bags with a chemical smell
  • Chemical smells on a person’s body or coming from the mouth
  • Eye irritation

Inhalant use does not show up in usual drug tests, so other detection means must be used if inhalant abuse is suspected. Blood tests can show elevated liver enzymes after inhalant use. Some chemicals will show up in urine after chronic use.

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