Everything You Need to Know About Paint Thinner Abuse

Inhalants are household and industrial chemicals, such as paint thinner, that are sometimes “huffed” or inhaled to get high. Young people may experiment with inhalants because they are legal, less expensive than illegal or illicit drugs, and in the house. The effects of regular use can be as harmful to the brain and body as cocaine, leading to mental and physical impairment, addiction, and death.

When we think of substance use disorder and addiction, we typically think of illicit or street drugs and abusing prescription medications. While these do make up the majority of substances that people abuse, there are other things, such as inhalants, that are not considered something that one would use to get high. Paint thinner is one of these volatile inhalants and can be exceedingly dangerous. Sniffing, snorting, bagging, or huffing paint thinner is far more common than many realize.

How Is Paint Thinner Abused?

Paint thinner can be abused in many different ways. As previously mentioned, people will be huffing, drinking, sniffing, and inhaling paint thinner. All of these methods can be extremely dangerous for the user. When someone huffs paint thinner or uses it in any other way, it can cause negative effects on their brain and their bodies, as well.

Paint Thinner And The Brain

Those who are getting a paint thinner high might experience memory loss and cognitive deficit; these problems could arise after 45 days of exposure. Chronic misuse of paint thinner causes structural brain damage, specifically on the white matter and the basal ganglia. In other words, the more someone uses paint thinner, the worse the effects will be.

Adolescent Addiction To Paint Thinners

Many adolescents want to experiment with drugs. However, many drugs are hard for them to come by. This is why many of them turn to paint thinner. It is easy for them to get. Teenagers typically don’t realize the dangers of abusing paint thinner. They don’t understand that even if it doesn’t cause immediate negative effects on their body and mind, it can eventually, even after they have stopped using it.

Side Effects Of Paint Thinner Abuse

There are many side effects of paint thinner abuse. Some people want to know what happens if you drink paint thinner and others want to know what happens if you inhale paint thinner. No matter the method you use, some of the short-term side effects you might experience from paint thinner abuse include the following:

  • Slurred speech.
  • Inability to coordinate movements.
  • Dazed or dizzy appearance.
  • Delusions or hallucinations.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Severe headaches.
  • Rashes on mouth and nose.
  • Unconsciousness.

Some of the long-term side effects of paint thinner abuse include the following:

  • Disorientation.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Irritability.
  • Coordination issues.
  • Depression.
  • Memory impairments.
  • Serious brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, and heart damage
  • Bone marrow damage.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Death.

Signs Of Paint Thinner Abuse

If you suspect that someone is experiencing paint thinner side effects, there are some signs that may show they are, indeed, abusing paint thinner. Some of these paint thinner abuse signs you might recognize include the following:

  • Chemical odors on clothing or their breath
  • Paint stains on their clothes, hands, or face
  • Hidden spray paint or solvent cans that are empty
  • Chemical-soaked clothing or rags that are hidden away
  • Disoriented appearance
  • Slurring of speech
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of coordination
  • Depression

These are some of the signs that someone might be abusing paint thinner.

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Paint Thinner Addiction Treatment

No matter what method someone uses to get a paint thinner high,  many addiction treatment centers are available to help them overcome their paint thinner abuse. Withdrawal from paint thinner abuse needs to be monitored and can be done in a medical detox program. It is also very tough to overcome paint thinner abuse on one’s own. Addiction rehab programs, after detox, are often found to be the most effective option.

Paint Thinner Withdrawal

Going through paint thinner withdrawal can be tough. There are many withdrawal symptoms that may be difficult to overcome on one’s own. Some of these withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Abstinence Syndrome.
  • Panic or anxiety attacks.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia or other types of sleep disorders.
  • Cravings for using paint thinners again.
  • Hallucinations.

For anyone who needs to go through withdrawal from a paint-thinner addiction, there are rehab options out there.

Paint Thinner Rehab Options

There are various paint thinner rehab options. The treatment starts with recognizing that recreational use of a substance has turned into an addiction. After that, it is important to seek out help and support. Treatment generally begins with a medical detox program. This helps the person to clean out their system.

Furthermore, there are also rehab options available for other types of inhalants, including:

After you complete a detox program, you will likely find some of the behavior change techniques used in inpatient and outpatient rehab programs that can help you to overcome your paint thinner abuse or addiction.

If you or someone you know is abusing paint thinners, you should know that there is help should you decide you’re ready for it.


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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