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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

Alcohol / Drugs
- Solvents and Aerosols (Inhalants)

Solvents and aerosols are usually legal products that were never intended to be used for the purpose of getting high. They are not drugs; they are poisons that can be found in many typical household products, such as:

  • butane gas cigarette lighter refills

  • liquefied domestic gas

  • solvent based adhesive

  • deodorant aerosols

  • pain relief sprays

  • aerosol air fresheners

  • hairsprays

  • some typewriter correction fluids

  • petrol

  • certain paints, paint thinners, and removers

  • dry cleaning agents

  • petrol lighter fuel

  • nail polish and polish remover

  • some shoe and metal polish

  • plaster remover

Many people have found that inhaling fumes from these products can produce a buzz similar to being drunk. The effect is produced by placing a solvent-soaked cloth in a plastic bag, holding the bag over the nose and mouth and breathing in the fumes. This is known among users as huffing. The result for most users is an immediate high that causes users to feel giddy, outgoing, and confident.  They also tend to hear and see things differently. Typical objects take on strange shapes, and time and space seem to shrink and expand.

There are serious risks associated with inhaling solvents and aerosols. Some immediate side effects include sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, slurred speech, double vision, drowsiness, and muscle pain. Users can become reckless and violent and will purposefully hurt themselves or others.

Long-term use of solvents and aerosols can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain. Sometimes the damage will heal once the huffing has stopped; sometimes however, it is permanent.

Other risks associated with the inhaling of solvents and aerosols include:

  • Suffocation – users have often passed out while inhaling with a bag over their faces and died of suffocation.

  • Heart failure – results from strenuous activity immediately after inhaling.

  • Depression – some users do not experience a high at all.  Instead, they just get depressed, often resulting in suicide attempts.

Reference:

CAMH: Do You Know…Inhalants

National Institute on Drug Abuse




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Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
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