Trusted Content

Aerosol Spray Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

February 15, 2019

Aerosol sprays include any number of volatile compounds with brain-changing implications. They are among a group of abused substances called inhalants, which include volatile solvents found in markers and cleaning products, gases like those used in medicine for their analgesic effects, and nitrites, contained in medications to lower blood pressure and treat heart disease.

Aerosol Sprays Effect On The Brain

Many inhalants contain propellants as well as toluene, a solvent found in paint thinners and paint remover. It is one likely compound responsible for igniting the reward system in the brain when a user inhales or “huffs” aerosol sprays, flooding the central nervous system with high levels of dopamine, producing a sense of euphoria for the user. Similar to alcohol, these compounds depress the central nervous system, slowing breathing, sometimes to dangerous levels. At the same time, these gases replace breathable air in the lungs, depriving the body of oxygen.

Some compounds found in aerosol sprays leave the body quickly; others are absorbed into fatty tissue, accumulating in toxic levels over time. Some of this fatty tissue surrounds nerve fibers throughout the body. This myelin coating, which protects fibers from crossing and misfiring, is slowly destroyed with use of inhalants, leading to long-term central nervous system dysfunction.

Similar to alcohol addiction, continued use of inhalants can contribute to disruption of normal frontal cortex function, affecting everything from how a person behaves, to decision-making and motor skills. In addition, as cells within the hippocampus are deprived of oxygen, that part of the brain, responsible for memory, begins to fail, leaving the user feeling disconnected and unable to retain information.

virtual care

Get treatment when
and how you need it.

Youth And Adolescent Addiction To Aerosol Sprays

Due to their affordability and availability, aerosol sprays and other inhalants account for the vast majority of substances abused by middle school users. Approximately 68% of inhalant users are under the age of 17. Some of these individuals are as young as seven. Often, those who abuse aerosol sprays and inhalants falsely assume the practice is safe, likely because of availability of these products in most households. And parents, focused on concerns over other drugs or unaware that their child might be using, can miss signs of abuse.

Use of inhalants tends to decline with age, but studies demonstrate a link between use of inhalants transitioning to smoking or alcohol use, making inhalants like aerosol sprays a gateway drug for later addictive behaviors.

Side effects are numerous depending on which compound is ingested and at which levels, but common side effects include headache, dizziness or drowsiness, and slurred speech and more serious side effects including pneumonia, heart attack, and death.

Possible Side Effects For Most Aerosol Sprays

  • slurred speech
  • dizziness
  • hallucinations
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • hypoxia
  • pneumonia
  • heart attack
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • aspiration of vomit
  • brain and nerve damage
  • suffocation
  • death

Signs Of Aerosol Spray Abuse

Parents should be on the look out for signs of inhalant abuse. As many as 22% of those who try abusing inhalants, like aerosol sprays, die the first time they use the substance, often from sudden cardiac arrest.

Signs of aerosol spray abuse may at first appear related to illness, manifested in weight loss or runny nose, but in conjunction with other symptoms may relate to repeated abuse of an aerosol spray or other inhalant substance. These signs include:

  • agitation
  • unexplained weight loss
  • delusions
  • dilated pupils
  • hallucinations
  • cough and runny nose
  • frequent nose bleeds

Aerosol sprays may be obtained easily, but they can be far more dangerous than more addictive substances. Euphoria or the high a user gets from “huffing” or inhaling these compounds are short-lived, so repeated use is common to perpetuate the experience. This repeated exposure is linked to a myriad of psychological and physiological disorders including central nervous system and cardiovascular disturbances.

Common Street Names For Inhalants Like Aerosol Sprays

  • Medusa
  • Moon Gas
  • Poor Man’s Pot
  • Air Blast
  • Discorama
  • Hippie Crack
  • Chroming
  • Glad
  • Whiteout

Gateway To Addiction And Addictive Behavior

With repeated use, a person may become addicted to aerosol sprays. Talking with your children about the dangers of these substances is one way to deter use. However, if you or your child is coping with continued use of aerosol sprays or other inhalants, help is available. These substances can become physically-addictive over time as a person develops a tolerance to the drug, leaving teens using to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

If you are currently using aerosol sprays to self-medicate, there are other ways to cope. It may be time to speak with someone who can help you get off the drug, and back on a track toward independence.

Find Aerosol Addiction Treatment

Whether you currently feel dependent on aerosol sprays or are concerned about a loved one, contact and speak to someone today at today in confidence. We can connect you with professionals in your area who can help you achieve freedom from inhalants.

Want to get help, but not ready to talk?

You can receive 24/7 text support right away and at your convenience. There is no obligation to enter treatment and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support to receive:

✅ Resources about addiction and recovery

✅ Info about our treatment process

"*" indicates required fields


Let Regard Healthcare walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help
100% Free and Confidential. Call 888-341-4325

For 24/7 Treatment Help Call:


For Immediate Treatment Help Call:
(888) 979-9592