How Long Do Inhalants Stay in Your System?

Inhalants are gaseous substances that produce various effects in the brain. They are known for their quick yet strong effects when abused, but in total, how long do inhalants stay in your system before excretion? Discover the half-life of most inhalants, inhalant drug test detection time, and information about how to get help for substance use disorder.

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Inhalants are recognized as volatile substances that change the brain’s function when inhaled. The primary reason why inhalants have been given their name is because of the nature of their intake, which is usually breathed in nasally or orally.

Many prescription drugs can be taken this way, such as in the case of using nebulizers for those with respiratory problems. However, some illicit drugs can also be abused through inhalation.

If you are taking inhalant drug tests and are wondering, “Do inhalants show up in a drug test?” Below, you will find the most common inhalants’ half-life and the time it takes for the body to process the drug.

How Long Do Inhalants Last In The Body?

Before understanding the length of time it takes for the body to process inhalants, we can first understand what a drug’s half-life means. The half-life of the drug is the time it takes for the body to process to become only half the dosage from the original intake.

Inhalants are known to have shorter-lasting effects, thus it is consequential that these drugs will also have shorter half-lives. For example, nitrates were discovered to have an elimination half-life of 1.4 minutes. From this perspective, we now know that many inhalants will be in this range of shorter half-lives, for about 1-5 minutes depending on the type and dosage of each drug.

How Long Do Inhalants Stay In Your Urine?

Another question that many individuals wonder about is how long is an inhalant detectable in urine. Many drug tests are done through urinalysis, so this question is understandable. Inhalants’ short half-lives mean that they are processed in the liver within minutes.

By waiting for about a day or two after intake, it is likely that inhalants will not be detectable in urine anymore. However, it is possible for inhalants to be detected when you have an intake of the substance a few minutes or hours prior to the test.

However, it is important to note that some tests are more in-depth than urinalysis. If you are taking a drug test for an employer or to complete a requirement, some may ask you to have skin or hair samples. In this case, some inhalants bind with some cells in the body, making the substance detectable for longer periods of time.

Factors On Drug Detection

There are also person-to-person factors that affect how inhalants are detected in the body. There is no exact answer as to how long do inhalants stay in the system, and most are relying upon averages. These can vary as well depending on the physical factors below:

  • Height and weight: People who are taller and heavier are likely to process inhalants quickly than those who are shorter and lighter.
  • Age: As a person ages, their metabolisms also slows down. Older people are likely to process inhalants slower than younger individuals.
  • Metabolism: As previously mentioned, metabolism plays a big role when it comes to drug detection. Some people have naturally faster metabolisms and others process ingested materials slower. Metabolic conditions can also affect inhalant drug detection.
  • Other drugs that are taken: Processing of inhalants is also affected if the person takes medications or other substances. The interactions may either slow down or speed up the metabolic process.
  • Medical conditions: Many medical conditions can also affect digestion, circulation, excretion, and the entire metabolic process. One can also consider if they have other health conditions that could affect the drug detection time.

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How To Get Help For Inhalant Abuse

Although it can be reassuring for others to know that inhalants do not commonly show up in typical drug tests, this is only a part of the problem when one is suffering from inhalant addiction.

When you recognize symptoms of inhalant abuse, such as using the drug frequently to achieve mind-altering effects, intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms as well as drastic physical and emotional changes, you may want to seek help for inhalant abuse.

Here are some of the simple ways you can take the first step on getting help for inhalant abuse:

Finding a trusted rehab center

A rehab center that caters to inhalant abuse will help you get a definite first step in getting high-quality care. The rehab center will guide you through a process of verifying your insurance, initial evaluation, treatment, and aftercare so you can get a solid foundation of how to stay sober from inhalants.

Many rehab centers have the goal of not just treating withdrawal symptoms but also guiding individuals to manage triggers based on their background on addiction. This is one of the tried and tested ways to have long-lasting sobriety.

Let trusted loved ones know

Your decision to stay sober is completely up to you, but it can help if you let trusted friends and family know. They can provide you with emotional, moral, or financial support if you decide to be committed to your recovery journey.

Seek a local support group

Local support groups for inhalant abuse are available in many communities. They are free and do not have any requirements for joining except the desire to stop addiction. You can look for local Narcotics Anonymous, church groups, and some local meetings that can help in your accountability towards being addiction-free.

Inhalants, Drug Tests, and Recovery

Perhaps you have come across this resource to find a temporary solution for inhalant abuse, such as coming clean on a drug test. With the resources and easy steps mentioned above, you can finally have a permanent solution to stop inhalant addiction for good.


  1. – “What are inhalants?”
  2. – “Analysis of isobutyl nitrite inhalant in rat and human blood: application for pharmacokinetic investigations”.
  3. – “Metabolic Disorders”.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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