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What is it?

Inhalants usually encompass volatile substances, many found around the home or office, that give off fumes or vapours at room temperature. Others are industrial. The four main categories of inhalants are

  • Volatile solvents – glue, petrol
  • Aerosols – cigarette lighters, hair sprays, air freshener
  • Anaesthetics – nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Volatile nitrates – amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate

What does it look like?

Volatile solvents – Will usually come in plastic containers such as those for glues

Aerosols – Come in metal cylinder containers

  • Anaesthetics – Small metal cylinders (shorter then aerosols), the same used for soda syphons
  • Volatile nitrates

Street Names

Nangs, bulbs, glue, gas, sniff, huff, chroming, poppers

How They Are Taken

  • Inhalants are inhaled either through the nose or mouth.
  • Before inhaling, inhalants are either sprayed into a plastic bag, poured into a bottle, or soaked onto a cloth

How They Work

Being depressants, inhalants affect the nervous system by slowing down messages to and from the brain

Why Is It Taken? (Desired Side Effects)

  • Volatile Solvents and Aerosols – the intoxication is similar to that from alcohol except it is achieved faster (between 1 and 5 minutes) and recovery is faster also (usually no longer then 60 minutes).
  • Nitrous oxide – Effects are a rapid head rush and euphoria, but they last only for a short moment
  • Volatile nitrates – Blood rushes to the brain, flooding it with oxygen. This brings on a sense of exhilaration and sensuality. Smooth muscles like those in the anus are relaxed, especially the anal sphincter, making it popular for those taking part in anal sex.

Other desired side effects

  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Excitement

Unwanted Side Effects

  • Slurred Speech
  • Convulsions
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Blood nose
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Delusions
  • Confusion and Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sores around the mouth and nose
  • Nausea

Long Term Side Effects

  • Tiredness
  • Tremors
  • Paleness in appearance
  • Weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Liver and Kidney damage
  • Degenerative brain disease (leaded petrol)
  • Thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat, damage to heart muscle
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Loss of hearing and smell
  • Long term users may feel irritable, hostile depressed and victimized

Nitrous oxide
Misuse of large commercial dental cylinders has resulted in oxygen deprivation, leading to death.

Overdose And Death

It is possible depending on the substance used and the method of use. Very high doses can result in blackouts, convulsions and coma. Only a small number of deaths have been reported as a result of chroming.

Addiction And Dependency

Users of inhalants do build a tolerance to the substances and as a result more and more is required to achieve the same desired effect.
Users can form both a physical and psychological dependency on some inhalants such as glue and petrol.