EXAMPLES OF INHALANT ABUSERS SEEKING
Anderson and Loomis (2003) cite the following examples of clients seeking medical
- A 21-year-old man is unconscious when he is brought to the emergency department.
His friends report that he has been "huffing" (placing a rag soaked
in a substance over his nose and mouth and then inhaling) for several months.
On examination, the thin young man is briefly arousable to deep pain. He slowly
becomes more arousable. Laboratory tests and a computed tomographic (CT) scan
of the head are negative. At 24 hours after presentation, the patient becomes
completely coherent and demands to be released from the hospital. He is released
against medical advice. Three weeks later, the young man again presents to
the emergency department, this time in full cardiac arrest. After extensive
resuscitative efforts, the patient dies. Family and friends confirm that he
had been inhaling gun cleaner daily.
- A 13-year-old girl with a primary complaint of headaches is brought to the
physician's office by her mother. The patient reports headaches that have been
increasing in frequency over the past year and are now present daily. The headaches
have resulted in several days missed from school. The patient's mother also
notes that the adolescent occasionally seems confused and uncoordinated ("clumsy"),
and is "not eating much." Her grades have declined dramatically over
the past semester. On physical examination, the patient is noted to have dry,
cracked perioral skin with irritation and sores on the lips, and fingernail
beds that appear to be stained with ink. The examination is otherwise normal.
During private questioning, the patient admits to sniffing glue and spray paint "once
or twice" with a friend over the past few months.