Inhalants are a group of volatile substances that generate chemical vapors which can be inhaled to produce psychoactive or mental alteration effects. Although it is possible that there are other substances of abuse that can be inhaled, the term “inhalants” is used to describe a variety of substances that are characterized mainly because they are rarely used by any other method than inhalation. Among this group of substances it is possible to find a great diversity of chemical products that includes domestic, industrial and even medical products, which are usually used in the course of daily life. One of the classification systems for inhalants allows establishing four basic types of inhalants, these categories are the following: volatile solvents, aerosols, gases and nitrites.

Volatile solvents are liquids that evaporate at room temperature. These are found in a variety of low-cost, and therefore easily obtainable, products that are in common household and industrial use. Such solvents can include paint thinners and removers, as well as dry cleaning fluids, grease removers, gasoline of various types, glue, correction fluids, and felt-tipped markers, among others.

On the other hand, aerosols are sprayers that are characterized by containing a set of propellants and solvents. These can include spray paints, deodorant sprays, hair fixers, vegetable oil sprays for cooking, etc.

In the case of gases, they include anesthesia that are usually used in medical centers as well as those gases that are used in domestic and commercial products. The anesthetic gases for medical use that are most used are; halothane, chloroform and nitrous oxide, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’. Among these three gases, nitrous oxide is the most widely used gas, to the point that it can be found in whipped cream dispensers and in certain products that increase octane numbers in race cars. Other household and commercial products that contain gases include butane lighters, propane tanks, and refrigerants.