Inhalant Dependence


Phillip W. Long, M.D.


Medical Treatment

Basic Principles

Order SGOT (AST) enzyme levels to determine extent of tissue damage.

Avoid epinephrine because of myocardial sensitization.

Antipsychotic Drugs

Haloperidol (1 to 5 mg every 6 hr until calm) is used for severe inhalant-induced agitation.

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Psychosocial Treatment

Basic Principles

If a user is to remain drug-free, follow-up treatment, usually with psychiatric help and resort to community resources, is vital.

Life-style changes such as avoiding people, places, and things related to inhalant use should be encouraged.

Initial psychosocial treatment should focus on confronting denial, teaching the disease concept of addictions, fostering an identification as a recovering person, recognition of the negative consequences of inhalant use, avoiding situational and intrapsychic cues that stimulate craving, and formulation of support plans.


It is likely that some heavy inhalant drug users, like other heavy drug users, suffer from chronic anxiety, depression, or feelings of inadequacy. In these cases, the drug abuse is a symptom rather than the central problem. These cases can benefit from psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy is useful when it focuses on the reasons for the patient's drug abuse. The drug abuse itself - past, present, and future consequences - must be given firm emphasis. Involving an interested and cooperative parent or spouse in conjoint therapy is often very beneficial.

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Internet Mental Health ( copyright 1995-2011 by Phillip W. Long, M.D.