Solvent abuse is often known as glue-sniffing, but also includes abuse of some gases, aerosols, paints etc.
It is illegal to sell anything containing solvents to under-18s, or anyone acting for them, if they suspect the product is intended for abuse.
How they are taken:
Solvents can be present in many household products.
When abused, they are sniffed or breathed into the lungs.
Solvents act as depressants.
Users may appear giggly, dreamy or dizzy, or hallucinate.
The effects last from 15-45 minutes.
Afterwards users may seem drowsy, or suffer from headaches.
Other common signs of solvent abuse include:
Empty cans etc. or plastic bags.
‘Chemical’ smells hanging on the breath or clothes.
Loss of appetite.
Frequent/persistent headaches, runny nose or sore throats.
Abuse of some glues results in spots around the eyes and mouth.
Abuse of gases, glues or aerosols is extremely dangerous, and can kill instantly. Solvent abuse kills one person each week in the UK. There have been cases of first-time users being killed instantly. It is extremely dangerous to mix sniffing solvents with drinking alcohol.
Aerosols/butane squirted directly onto the back of the throat can produce instant death by stopping the heart. If the substances are inhaled from a plastic bag over the head, users face the risk of suffocation.
There is also a risk of becoming unconscious and choking to death on vomit. Abusing solvents can lead to nausea, vomiting, black-outs and fatal heart problems. Long-term abuse can damage the brain, liver and kidney. Some solvents contain poisonous substances. Solvent abuse affects co-ordination and judgment, which can lead to accidents.