- Butane gas
- Ethyl Ether
- Carbon Tetrachloride
Scientific Names: As with common names the list is extensive and includes products which contain the following chemicals: acetate, acetone, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, cyclotexane, ethyl ether, ketone, mexane, naptha, perchlorethylene, toluene, trichlorethylene, trichlorophane.
Generic Names: Enwau Generig: This was once known as "Glue Sniffing" but the term was widened into "Solvent Abuse" in recognition of the wider range of substances used. As some of the substances sniffed are gases rather than solvents the term currently in use is "Volatile Substance Abuse" or VSA.
Hairspray, deodorants, air freshners, thinners, petrol and fire extinguishers, gas lighter refills, tins or tubes of glue, some paints, thinners and correcting fluids, cleaning fluids, surgical spirit, dry-cleaning fluids and petroleum products.
Desired Effects:Intoxication, disinhibition, reduced anxiety. The effects of solvent intoxication can vary widely depending on the dose and what type of solvent or gas is inhaled. Inhaling larger quantity of solvents or gases may experience stronger effects such as distortion in perceptions of time and space, hallucinations and emotional disturbances.
Side Effects:Confusion, drowsiness, loss of coordination, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbance.
- Do not spray aerosols directly into your mouth; this is highly dangerous and may freeze your throat or cause your throat to swell up; this can cause breathing to become irregular or stop and can put a strain on your heart.
- Do not inhale by putting plastic bags over your head as this can cause suffocation. Inhaling through a cloth is less risky.
- Do not mix with other drugs - particularly alcohol as this can lead to unconsciousness and death.
- Use only small amounts especially if you are an inexperienced user, and try not to use repeatedly.
- If you choose to use solvents use in a safe environment i.e. not by a railway, motorway or industrial areas etc.
- Use when other people are present and have a person you trust with you in case things go wrong.
- Many of these products are highly flammable and if used at the same time as smoking, or using a naked flame, can harm you or others around you, cause fires or may even explode.
- Do not drive while under the influence as they can affect coordination and the ability to judge speed and distance.
- Do not use inhalants when in a negative state of mind; or to cloud negative feelings because they could make those negative feelings worse. Also you are more likely to become aggressive and engage in risky behaviours that may harm yourself and/or others.
- Death and overdose is a very real risk with solvents and it can happen at any time, no matter how experienced you think you are.
- If someone is suffering bad effects like vomiting, convulsions, unconsciousness - put them in the recovery position and call for medical assistance immediately.
Long term risks:There is very little research into the long term risks from VSA. However the inhaling of some solvents can cause hearing loss, limb spasms, and damage to the central nervous system and brain. Serious but potentially reversible effects include liver and kidney damage and blood oxygen depletion. Death from inhalants is generally caused by a large concentration of fumes. Inhaling solvents from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area increases the chances of suffocation. Brain damage is typically seen with chronic long term use as opposed to short term exposure. Industrial studies have demonstrated damage to brain, liver, kidneys, lungs and airways from long term exposure to some of the above substances.
Short term risks:In the short term, many users experience headache, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, loss of co-ordination, and wheezing. There are between 50 and 100 deaths annually from the use of solvents and other volatile substances. These are virtually all from the short term risks and the very large majority of these fatalities are teenagers. Some of the deaths result from the "sniffing" techniques used. Thus some users of gases and aerosols will spray the substance direct into the mouth. The impact of a stream of freezing cold particles on the back of the throat can produce choking and has led to heart attack. In other cases young people have put their heads right inside plastic bags containing glues or solvents and suffocated. Other injuries and deaths result from accidents whilst under the influence. These have included drownings and road accidents. Finally there are a class of so-called "sudden sniffing deaths". They may result from the impact on the heart of the substances concerned - often butane - and sudden violent exercise whilst under the influence. This may happen if for example the sniffer is being chased by a real or imaginary foe. The cause of death is usally given as heart attack but the mechanisms are not fully understood.
Parents & other relatives
Many drug agencies also provide lots of advice and support to parents, family members and partners of people using drugs. They may provide relative support groups or advice, guidance and counselling on a one to one basis.