Inhalants are products that give off chemical vapours. Many inhalants are volatile solvents—gasoline, paint thinner, glue—used to perform everyday tasks at home, school or work. They are not intended for inhalation. When purposely inhaled, the vapours affect how we think and feel, slowing down our heart rate, breathing, thoughts and actions.
People inhale solvents for a variety of reasons. Some experiment with inhalants once or twice to see what the experience feels like. Others use inhalants for the same reasons many of us use alcohol—to help us relax, socialize, open up to friends about emotional matters, or escape from things we don’t like in our lives. Since solvents are more affordable than alcohol or other drugs, limited access to money is a factor in why people may choose inhalants over other substances. But like other mind-altering substances, inhalants can be harmful.