What Happens When You Mix Inhalants and Alcohol?

Among teenagers and young people, inhalants and alcohol are some of the most easily accessible and addictive substances. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, one in five eighth grade students try inhalants. But while those who commonly use inhalants and alcohol together skew younger, adults are just as much at risk of overdosing while mixing these drugs. Inhalants are typically depressants, just like alcohol, and when the two are combined, you run the risk of permanent brain damage, coma and death. And since even a one-time inhalant use can be deadly, drinking alcohol after “huffing,” or inhaling, a substance is extremely dangerous.

If you or someone you know is abusing an inhalant and drinking simultaneously, reaching out for help now can prevent a lifelong substance use disorder. When you’re ready to make a change, the intake coordinators at The Recovery Village are ready to help.

What Are Inhalants?

Meth, cocaine and marijuana can all be inhaled, but as a group, inhalants encompass a wide variety of substances and household items that can be inhaled for a short-lived high. A plethora of common household items contain chemical vapors that can have hazardous psychoactive effects on the individual inhaling the substance.

There are many types of inhalants, including:

  • Aerosols: Common aerosols include spray vegetable oil, spray paint, hair spray and compressed air cans used to clean computer keyboards.
  • Solvents: A solvent can be lighter fluid, paint thinner, nail polish or remover, and glue and felt-tip marker fluid, to name a few.
  • Nitrates: These include room deodorizer, leather cleaner, liquid fragrances or amyl nitrate “poppers.”
  • Gases: The gas from propane tanks, butane lighters, “laughing gas” and even that from whipped cream cans (“whippets”) can be used to get high.
mixing heroin and alcohol

What Are the Side Effects of Inhalants and Alcohol?

Inhalants and alcohol have many of the same side effects. When used together, these two substances enhance their initial effects while producing additional, deadly side effects. Some of the most common side effects of mixing inhalants and alcohol include:

  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Slowed muscle movements
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Extreme headaches
  • Violent mood swings
  • Bad breath
  • Hallucinations
  • Erratic behavior
  • Dramatic weight loss

Over time, repetitive abuse of inhalants with alcohol can cause irreparable damage to the body such as liver and kidney damage and hearing and vision loss. To avoid a serious physical and psychological dependency, think twice before mixing inhalants and alcohol. This is one deadly cocktail that should be avoided at all costs.

Dangers of Mixing Inhalants and Alcohol

On their own, inhalants can damage the brain by producing hallucinations and triggering long-term psychosis. When consumed with alcohol, these detrimental drugs become even more deadly.

Both inhalants and alcohol act as depressants within the body, slowing down central nervous system activity. As the effects of these substances amplify, the risk of respiratory and cardiac arrest increases dramatically. Muscle movement begins to slow down. Loss of consciousness and vomiting are common. Over long periods of time, inhalant and alcohol use depletes brain mass, leading to significant declines in cognitive functioning.

Treatment for Inhalants and Alcohol

The chronic use of inhalants and alcohol can decrease cognitive functioning and self-esteem to a point that makes asking for help difficult. But your recovery is worth fighting for. With the help of specialized care and professionally supervised rehabilitation, people suffering from inhalant and alcohol addiction can get their lives back on the right track.

At The Recovery Village, all of our programs, from medically assisted detox to outpatient care, are tailored to your specific situation and needs. You’ll work with a team of compassionate doctors and clinicians who care about your journey back to health and will work with you one-on-one to achieve your sobriety goals. If you’re ready to leave inhalant and alcohol addiction behind, we’re ready to help you get there. Your recovery is possible — the first step is reaching out. Call us today for more information.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.