Traditionally referred to as 'glue sniffing', the vast
majority of solvent abusers are between the ages of 11-16 and
usually male. The most common method of inhaling solvents is by
inhaling them from a bag which is placed over the
A feeling of strong intoxication kicks in almost immediately with some users experiencing hallucinations. The effects are short lived, resulting in the prospect of repeated abuse.
Methods of Inhalation
- Some are sniffed directly from the product into the mouth
- By putting the solvent into a paper or plastic bag and inhaling from this
- The solvent is put onto the clothes (Sleeve) and then inhaled from the cloth
- Putting the solvent in a bag and placing directly over the head.
Signs and Symptoms of Solvent abuse
Among the signs which have been found useful are:
- Erratic or violent behaviour
- Fixed stare, blurred or double vision
- Restlessness, tiredness and lack of energy
- Groups of teenagers congregating in out of the way places
- Tubes of glue, gas canisters, aerosols sprays etc. found in unusual places such as waste ground, derelict buildings or hidden in the home
- Smell of solvent on breath or traces of solvent on the cuffs of jackets, on lapels, handkerchiefs, rags or in crisp packets, plastic bags or bottles
- Spots, boils or a red ring around the mouth and nose (“Glue sniffer’s rash”)
- Persistent cough, running nose and eyes
- Abdominal Cramps
- Respiratory Distress
- Abnormal Heart Beat
Complications of Solvent Abuse
Death can result from: Toxic effect, Asphyxia, Injury due to intoxication, Aspiration of Vomit
Small doses of Volatile Substances produce the effects often produced by alcohol, but with greater exposure and higher doses solvents can have severe effects as listed below:
- CNS depression
- Cardiac Arrest
- Pulmonary Oedema
- Respiratory Distress
The use of a drug, but not for the purpose intended, or the excessive use of a drug. The types of drugs that people abuse can vary from over the counter medications e.g. cough medicines, prescription medications like painkillers and tranquilisers, and illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.
Types of Drugs commonly used and their possible signs, symptoms and dangers:
(coke, rock, crack, base)
- Physical Symptoms: Brief intense euphoria, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, restlessness, excitement, feeling of well-being followed by depression.
- Dangers: Addiction, heart attack, seizures, lung damage, severe depression, paranoia (see stimulants).
(pot, dope, grass, weed, herb, hash, joint)
- Physical Symptoms: Altered perceptions, red eyes, dry mouth, reduced concentration and coordination, euphoria, laughing, hunger.
- Look For: Rolling papers, pipes, dried plant material, odour of burnt hemp rope, roach clips.
- Dangers: Panic reaction, impaired short term memory, addiction.
(acid, LSD, PCP, Ecstasy, magic mushrooms)
- Symptoms: Altered mood and perceptions, focus on detail, anxiety, panic, nausea, synaesthesia (A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualisation of a colour.)
- Dangers: Unpredictable behaviour, emotional instability, violent behaviour (with PCP)
(gas, aerosols, glue, nitrates, rush, white out)
- Symptoms: Nausea, dizziness, headaches, lack of coordination and control.
- Signs: Odour of substance on clothing and breath, intoxication, drowsiness, poor muscular control.
- Dangers: Unconsciousness, suffocation, nausea and vomiting, damage to brand and central nervous system, sudden death.
Heroin (junk, dope, black tar, China white)
Demerol, Deluded (D's), Morphine, Codeine
- Physical Symptoms: Euphoria, drowsiness, insensitivity to pain, nausea, vomiting, watery eyes, runny nose (see depressants).
- Look For: Needle marks on arms, needles, syringes, pinpoint pupils, cold moist skin.
- Dangers: Addiction, lethargy, weight loss, contamination from un sterile needles (hepatitis, AIDS), accidental overdose.
(speed, uppers, caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines)
- Physical Symptoms: Alertness, talkativeness, wakefulness, increased blood pressure, loss of appetite, mood elevation.
- Dangers: Fatigue leading to exhaustion, addiction, paranoia, depression, confusion, possible hallucinations.
(barbiturates, sedatives, tranquilisers, downers, valium, alcohol)
- Physical Symptoms: Depressed breathing and heartbeat, intoxication, drowsiness, uncoordinated movements.
- Dangers: Possible overdose, especially in combination with alcohol, muscle rigidity, addiction, withdrawal and overdose require medical treatment.
High concentrations of O2, Calm and reassure, Assess Cardiac Rhythm On ECG Monitor, Be prepared to carry out BLS, Monitor Blood Glucose Level - Rectify with Glucagon or Hypostop if necessary
Transport to Hospital