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Inhalants: Anesthetics, Industrial Solvents and Organic Nitrates – Drugs of Abuse

by Pravin Shukle, MD
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    The next category of drugs are an interesting one. They are the inhalants. Now, we know about anesthetic inhalant drugs, and we use them all the time, and we don't really think about it, but those same anesthetic drugs can be used to be abused. Industrial solvents are solvents and chemicals that are available without a prescription obviously because they are used in industrial applications, but these are sometimes huffed or ingested or inhaled to get a high. And organic nitrates are derivations of some of our anesthetic drugs that are also used. So, let's start off with nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a drug that causes asphyxiation by causing oxygen starvation. And it is the drug of choice for dentists because it gives a fairly rapid anesthesia and it also provides a feeling of wellbeing while patients are under. Chloroform is another inhaled anesthetic agent. And diethyl ether is also used as well. Diethyl ether is highly volatile, but it does cause euphoria and disinhibition. This is a heartbreaking section for me. Huffing is inhaling gasoline or kerosine. And what is really heartbreaking about this is it's most often used by children. So, if you have a young child coming in with delirium, first thing you should think about is "Are they huffing?" Now, why is it that children are using this more than anyone else is because it's cheap. They essentially put gasoline in a plastic bag and inhale it. Here is a picture of some kids from Tennessee. I see kids up in the Arctic with this problem. And even kids on some of our reserves, there's a high rate of huffing dependance. It is exceedingly toxic to the liver. It's also toxic to the bone marrow and kidneys. Now, how we treat it are hyperbaric chambers...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Inhalants: Anesthetics, Industrial Solvents and Organic Nitrates – Drugs of Abuse by Pravin Shukle, MD is from the course Toxicology. It contains the following chapters:

    • Inhalants
    • Anesthetics
    • Industrial Solvents
    • Organic Nitrates

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. The patient may have a lipoid pneumonia after an acute ingestion of inhaled nitrates ("poppers").
    2. The patient has an acute pneumonia from a typical bacterium.
    3. The patient is having a myocardial infarction.
    4. The patient is HIV positive and is suffering from pneumocystis carinii infection.
    5. The patient is suffering from morphine withdrawal.
    1. The patient drank hairspray.
    2. The patient has huffed gasoline.
    3. The patient ingested photocopier toner.
    4. The patient has injected PCP.
    1. 28 days
    2. 7 days
    3. 2 days
    4. 14 days
    5. 3 months
    1. Relaxation of smooth muscle throughout the body
    2. Vasoconstriction of blood vessels
    3. Increased sensitivity of surface touch receptors
    4. Methemoglobinuria
    5. Oxygen deprivation

    Author of lecture Inhalants: Anesthetics, Industrial Solvents and Organic Nitrates – Drugs of Abuse

     Pravin Shukle, MD

    Pravin Shukle, MD


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