Form present in small amounts in the body. Sold in small bottles of about 40 ml liquid. Concentration widely variable, and once salts are dissolved, difficult to estimate exact concentration. Dose tolerant individuals may use 4-5 grams per dose. Breen et al. (2002) reported that due to insufficient data available on GHB, it was impossible to report with certainty on patterns of use, price or purity of GHB available in Australia. They suggest it was probably purchased by the ‘ml’ rather than by gram. Source: Breen, C., Topp, L. & Longo, M. 2002, Adapting the IDRS Methodology to Monitor Trends in Party Drug Markets: Findings of a Two-year Feasibility Trial , NDARC Technical Report No. 142, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney.
Effects are generally similar to alcohol (www.erowid.org).
• Key StatsKey Stats
• Different types of solventsDifferent types of solvents
• How they workHow they work
• Methods of useMethods of use
• Health / DangersHealth / Dangers
Defining volatile substance abuseDefining volatile substance abuse
• Solvent abuseSolvent abuse is sometimes calledis sometimes called glueglue
sniffing, inhalant abusesniffing, inhalant abuse oror volatile substancevolatile substance
• Children and young people often call itChildren and young people often call it
huffing, sniffinghuffing, sniffing oror tootingtooting..
((NHS Direct website)NHS Direct website)
How does Solvent use differ
from other drugs?
• The age at which young people
experiment is generally much younger
than for controlled substances
• Solvents aren’t physically addictive.
However the user may develop a
What is solvent and volatile
• Volatile substances are depressants which
slow down the activity of your brain.
• They can also be stimulants and cause
• Two main candidates for sniffing;
What are you finding?What are you finding?
• Age & SexAge & Sex
• Products & MethodsProducts & Methods
• Social & family issuesSocial & family issues
• Physical healthPhysical health
• Mental healthMental health
• Other alcohol or drug useOther alcohol or drug use
Who uses volatile substances?Who uses volatile substances?
• One in 10 secondary school children ‘sniff’ atOne in 10 secondary school children ‘sniff’ at
least once, most of these will only experimentleast once, most of these will only experiment
• Less than one per cent of all children becomeLess than one per cent of all children become
heavy and frequent users.heavy and frequent users.
• Peak age for experimenting around 13 or 14.Peak age for experimenting around 13 or 14.
• Boys are more likely to die than girls, and it isBoys are more likely to die than girls, and it is
more common in inner city areas.more common in inner city areas.
• 1996 British Crime Survey - Black or South1996 British Crime Survey - Black or South
Asian groups half as likely to use volatileAsian groups half as likely to use volatile
substances as those from White groups.substances as those from White groups.
• Ancient Greece -“Cave Sniffing”
• 1775 – Joseph Priestley: Nitrous oxide
• 1790s – Humphrey Davy tested gas on
himself including Coleridge.
• 1857 – Amyl nitrite, treatment for angina
Century - England and America
Ether, chloroform and nitrous oxide
“sniffing parties” and “ether frolics”
• Second World War - Germany
• ether drunk as a substitute for alcohol
• 1950s America – petrol/glue sniffing
• Australia, India and Great Britain
• 1976 – Punks and ‘glue sniffing’
• 1980 – Glasgow study - community
• 1990-92 - VSA deaths fall sharply
• 2000 – present Butane accounts for
majority of deaths, increase in glue
Key statisticsKey statistics
• Since 1971Since 1971, there have been more than, there have been more than
2,1982,198 VSA-linked deaths in the UKVSA-linked deaths in the UK..
• InIn 20052005,, 45 deaths45 deaths were associated withwere associated with
VSA, the lowest since 1983.VSA, the lowest since 1983.
• The rapid fall in VSA deaths in the earlyThe rapid fall in VSA deaths in the early
1990s associated in part with an1990s associated in part with an advertisingadvertising
campaigncampaign in 1992in 1992??
• InIn 20052005,, butanebutane from all sources, includingfrom all sources, including
aerosol propellantsaerosol propellants, accounted for, accounted for 80 per80 per
centcent of theof the 45 VSA-linked45 VSA-linked deaths.deaths.
• 1971 to 20051971 to 2005,, halfhalf of all VSA-linked deaths occurredof all VSA-linked deaths occurred
in the under-18 age group.in the under-18 age group.
• 2000–2005,2000–2005, there werethere were 52 deaths associated52 deaths associated withwith
VSA (10–15 age group), compared with 24 deathsVSA (10–15 age group), compared with 24 deaths
associated with drug abuse.associated with drug abuse.
• VSAVSA is nearly equalis nearly equal between the sexesbetween the sexes, but deaths in, but deaths in
thethe over-18over-18 age group are far more common amongage group are far more common among
• Most fatalitiesMost fatalities were in the abuser’swere in the abuser’s home (73 perhome (73 per
cent),cent), with a further 7 per cent of abuses taking placewith a further 7 per cent of abuses taking place
in the home of a friend.in the home of a friend.
Source: ‘Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of VolatileSource: ‘Trends in Death Associated With Abuse of Volatile
Substances: 1971-2005’, Field-Smith and others (2007)Substances: 1971-2005’, Field-Smith and others (2007)
• Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985
Illegal to sell to under 18s if reasonable belief
the substance may be inhaled
• Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations
Offence to supply any refill canister containing
butane to under 18s
• Few prosecutions, only 53 out of 90 leading to a
conviction, the other 37 resulting in a fine
• Maximum penalty is 6 month prison sentence
and a fine of £5,000
Different types of solventsDifferent types of solvents
What are the different volatileWhat are the different volatile
• Aerosol glueAerosol glue
• Air freshenerAir freshener
• Anaesthetic agentsAnaesthetic agents
• Butane gas cansButane gas cans
• Cleaning fluidsCleaning fluids
• Contact adhesivesContact adhesives
• Hair sprayHair spray
• Industrial solventsIndustrial solvents
• Lighter fuelLighter fuel
• Model glueModel glue
• Paint thinners andPaint thinners and
• Propane gas cylinderPropane gas cylinder
Solvents & Gases
Used to keep products dissolved until they are ready for
use. Glues, Tipex, nail varnish, petrol etc.
Quick evaporation and volatility give the intoxicating effect.
Fuel gases i.e. cigarette lighter refills or propellants
Pressurised liquid gases used to propel the contents
(e.g. hairspray) from the container.
Main propellant used today is butane
How are volatile substances used?How are volatile substances used?
• Glue tends to be sniffed from bags, including crispGlue tends to be sniffed from bags, including crisp
• Liquids, including petrol, can be sniffed from aLiquids, including petrol, can be sniffed from a
handkerchief or a coat sleeve.handkerchief or a coat sleeve.
• Gaseous preparations, such as butane and aerosols,Gaseous preparations, such as butane and aerosols,
can be sniffed from bags or sprayed directly into thecan be sniffed from bags or sprayed directly into the
• Heads are often placed inside a large plastic bag toHeads are often placed inside a large plastic bag to
inhale the fumes.inhale the fumes.
Some people will inhale through both the nose and mouth toSome people will inhale through both the nose and mouth to
enhance the effect.enhance the effect.
• Accounted for 46.8%
of deaths between
1971 and 2006.
• 2006 - 56.3%
• Cigarette lighter fuel
81.7% of total gas
• Accounted for
17.7% of deaths
• Glues accounted
for 15% of
1971 and 2006
How do solvents and volatile substances work?How do solvents and volatile substances work?
• Absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream.Absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream.
• The chemicals in solvents are fat soluble passThe chemicals in solvents are fat soluble pass
rapidly to the brain - effects 20-30 seconds last forrapidly to the brain - effects 20-30 seconds last for
the next 30-40 minutesthe next 30-40 minutes
• Effects vary from person to person the ‘high’ usuallyEffects vary from person to person the ‘high’ usually
last only a few minutes.last only a few minutes.
• Duration of the experience depends on the productDuration of the experience depends on the product
glue has a longer duration than butane.glue has a longer duration than butane.
Initial feeling of euphoria, very similar to alcoholInitial feeling of euphoria, very similar to alcohol
intoxication, speed of onset is much more rapid;intoxication, speed of onset is much more rapid;
• •• Drowsiness: initial excitement often followed by drowsinessDrowsiness: initial excitement often followed by drowsiness
• •• Slurred speechSlurred speech
• •• Loss of co-ordinationLoss of co-ordination
• •• Buzz - buzzing in the earsBuzz - buzzing in the ears
• •• Light-headed - floaty feelingLight-headed - floaty feeling
• •• Numbness and tingling in hands and feetNumbness and tingling in hands and feet
• •• HallucinationsHallucinations
• •• Visual distortions - flashes of lights before the eyesVisual distortions - flashes of lights before the eyes
• •• Loss of inhibitionsLoss of inhibitions
Biochemistry of SolventsBiochemistry of Solvents
Nerve cell in brain
Biochemistry of SolventsBiochemistry of Solvents
Nerve cell in brain
Reasons for volatile substance abuseReasons for volatile substance abuse
Children and young people calling ChildLine identified theChildren and young people calling ChildLine identified the
following reasons for abusing volatile substances:following reasons for abusing volatile substances:
• low self-esteem and poor self image and resulting self-low self-esteem and poor self image and resulting self-
• difficult family relationshipsdifficult family relationships
• lack of support through traumatic events and transitionslack of support through traumatic events and transitions
• peer influencepeer influence
• bullying, violence and other abusebullying, violence and other abuse
• opportunity and availability.opportunity and availability.
Who Sniffs Solvents and Volatile
The majority of young people fall into this
category and only try solvents once or
• Young people ‘sniff’ solvents in a
recreational way or with friends.
• The amount of use varies depending on
what else is happening in their lives
• Often just a phase in their life and stops
when they find other interests or ‘grow out
• People see their sniffing as more
important than other activities.
• Underlying reasons for use include
problems with friends or family, financial
pressures and using solvents as a way of
managing difficult, feelings, stresses or
• Only a small number of people become chronic
• More regular and increasing amounts need to be
taken to get the same effect.
• May use alone or with others.
• Users may also have other problems such as
difficulties at home, depression, anxiety, low
achievement at school etc.
• Solvents are often used as a way of escaping
• The primary danger is death, particularly through firstThe primary danger is death, particularly through first
time use.time use. Heart Failure – Sudden Death Syndrome
• Drug induced trauma – paranoia, agitation, anxiety.Drug induced trauma – paranoia, agitation, anxiety.
• Vulnerable to a range of dangers and risky behaviours.Vulnerable to a range of dangers and risky behaviours.
• If butane or aerosols are sprayed directly into the mouth,If butane or aerosols are sprayed directly into the mouth,
may freeze and damage the throat tissues.may freeze and damage the throat tissues.
• Many of these products are flammable, there is a fireMany of these products are flammable, there is a fire
risk, especially when sniffing and smoking.risk, especially when sniffing and smoking.
• Large plastic bags to inhale solvents carriesLarge plastic bags to inhale solvents carries
the risk of suffocation.the risk of suffocation.
• May choke on their own vomit.May choke on their own vomit.
• Likely to compound the effects of street drugsLikely to compound the effects of street drugs
or alcohol, which may add to the dangers.or alcohol, which may add to the dangers.
• Damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, boneDamage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, bone
marrow or nervous system is known, but it ismarrow or nervous system is known, but it is
not common and is generally reversible.not common and is generally reversible.
Signs of “Sniffing”
• Empty butane gas, aerosol or glue containers.
• Teeth marks on nozzles, towels with white
marks on, bags containing glue, etc.
• Physical symptoms such as;
drunken behaviour, chemical smell on clothing,
dilated pupils, pale complexion, red watery eyes,
persistent runny nose, cough in the back of the
throat, rashes or spots around the nose and
mouth (only occurs with certain products)
• If they are high
keep them calm and still. There is a risk of
sudden death if exertion follows sniffing – don’t
chase or over excite them.
• If they are unconscious
check their airway, breathing and circulation
place them on their side in the recovery position
call an ambulance and inform them what has
keep them warm and still
• Survey of professionals revealed that
GPs, as a group, demonstrated less
awareness of the problem than teachers
and other professionals.
• Early intervention may be enough to prevent the
development of a long-term problem.
• Where the habit is already active, treatment may
be provided by social and youth services,
counselling agencies and family/group therapy
• Aim of treatment is to develop social and
emotional skills to deal with personal problems.
• Develop reading/creative skills or use of
• More specialised help for chronic users.
May be slightly salty or bitterMay be slightly salty or bitter
to tasteto taste..
– usual dose is around 1–3 gusual dose is around 1–3 g
CConcentration is widelyoncentration is widely
– oral, less often IVoral, less often IV..
– 10–60 minutes10–60 minutes..
GHB EffectsGHB Effects
Small dose (1–3 g)Small dose (1–3 g)
– Decreased inhibitionsDecreased inhibitions
– Increased libidoIncreased libido
– Euphoria similar toEuphoria similar to
– Sedative effectsSedative effects
– Memory loss (sedation)Memory loss (sedation)
– Synergistic effect whenSynergistic effect when
combined with alcoholcombined with alcohol
(significantly increases(significantly increases
risk of overdose)risk of overdose)..
Larger Dose (4–5 g)Larger Dose (4–5 g)
– Powerful sedative effectsPowerful sedative effects
– Nausea and vomitingNausea and vomiting
– Stiffening of musclesStiffening of muscles
– Profound sedationProfound sedation
– Respiratory collapseRespiratory collapse..