When thinking of addiction, the first image that springs to mind usually contains a person nodding off from fentanyl, getting drunk off hard liquor, or smoking meth. But the desire to get high can lead people to try using common everyday items through snorting, ingesting, or huffing the substance. The purpose for this ranges from alleviating boredom, escaping uncomfortable feelings, or trying to reduce painful withdrawal symptoms. Using household items to get you high can seem unusual to those who are not familiar with addiction or never experienced that curiosity when young. But unfortunately there are many potentially dangerous ways that young people try to get high at home. From over-the-counter cough medicine to keyboard cleaner, many seemingly safe household items get you high by creating temporary feelings of euphoria.
What household items get you high?
Although addicts may use strange items to try and get high, this behavior usually comes from teenagers. This results from several factors. The first is that teenagers do not have usually have income or funds to purchase illicit drugs. Teenagers also do not always have access to illicit drug dealers or networks, although unfortunately this is more common today with smartphone apps. So they will often turn to items in the house to try and get high. This presents serious risk of injury can result in hospitalization or death. We urge parents and loved ones of addicts to be wary of these common items used to get high, as they may put loved ones at risk.
Common Household Items that Contain Alcohol
Many parents do not realize that mouthwash contains more alcohol than wine. The most common mouthwashes contain between 20-24% alcohol by volume (ABV), which puts them pretty close to the popular rum liqueur Malibu (21% ABV). Mouthwash is toxic when ingested, and minors who drink mouthwash should be taken to the emergency room for poison control.
Although it sounds strange, drinking hand sanitizer is not uncommon for people in recovery for alcoholism. Hand sanitizer contains even more alcohol than mouthwash and can vary between 60-95% ABV. Hand sanitizer is also toxic when ingested and carries a higher risk of alcohol poisoning due to its high concentration.
Many over-the-counter cough syrups contain alcohol, notably certain types of NyQuil. Many OTC cough syrups also contain codeine which is an opioid and bind to the same receptors as heroin and fentanyl. The last ingredient that is a cause for concern is dextromethorphan (DXM). DXM is a general anesthetic and hallucinogen which creates similar effects to ketamine and PCP. Although cough syrups contain low amounts of these various chemicals, they can be abused at large doses. Robotussin in particular has a reputation for being abused (the DXM content described as “robotripping”).
Over-the-Counter Inhalants Used to Get High (“Huffing”)
Huffing and other forms of inhalant abuse often include the use of common household substances. The practice is common among teenagers because these items are easily available, but they have unfortunate side effects. Some long term effects include lung damage, liver and kidney damage, cardiovascular events, carbon monoxide poisoning, and sudden sniffing death syndrome.
These are sprays that contain propellants and solvents. The aerosol category includes hair sprays, spray paints, fabric protector sprays, deodorant sprays, and oil sprays.
Gases (“Laughing Gas”)
Whippets (whipped cream cans) are one of the most commonly abused substances for huffing. They contain nitrous oxide which acts as a preservative and propellant. This whippet drug is commonly referred to as “laughing gas” and the high typically lasts between 30-60 seconds. The nitrous oxide in whippet cans can result in severe neurological complications and spinal cord damage with prolonged use. Other gases used for huffing include butane lighters, ether, and chloroform. All of these substances are considered toxic and can cause long-term health complications.
This special class of inhalants does not act directly on the central nervous system (CNS). Instead, they primarily dilate blood vessels and relax muscles. They are prohibited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission but can be found in small quantities in certain products.
These liquids vaporize at room temperature. Many inexpensive, easily available products contain volatile solvents. Some examples include paint thinners and removers, glues, felt-tip markers, and gasoline.
Inhalant abuse can cause death. This can be due to several lethal complications: asphyxiation, suffocation, convulsions and seizures, coma, choking, and fatal injury.
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Pills and Other Substances
Bath salts are synthetic cathinones, a naturally-occurring beta-ketone amphetamine analogue. It is a potent class of drug associated with significant medical and psychiatric consequences. Bath salts are legal and unregulated in many states. Individuals who abuse bath salts can also buy these drugs online even in states that prohibit their sale. US poison control centers report that individuals brought in under the influence of bath salts display paranoia, violent behavior, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks.
At high concentrations, freshly ground nutmeg can cause hallucinations due to the presence of myristicin. Intoxication from this substance can cause hallucinations, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, and confusion.
Motion Sickness Pills
Motion sickness pills include dimenhydrinate or Dramamine. Large doses of this drug produces psychotropic effects such as euphoria or hallucinations. Its ability as an OTC medication make this a popular choice for teenagers.
Getting Help for Addiction
Regardless of the substance, habitually seeking altered states of consciousness usually indicates that an individual needs help. That may come in the form of therapy, mood medication, or education about substance abuse. Rehab programs are structured to address the problem of constantly seeking altered states of mind. If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem or mood disorder, our counselors are available for free case consultations 24/7: 855-997-4702