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(fast drying glues and adhesives, assorted paint and petroleum products, lighter fluid, dry-cleaning fluids, assorted aerosol sprays, surgical spirit, cleaners etc.)

Solvent abuse involves inhaling the fumes from domestic and industrial products creating a strong intoxication.

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 plastic bag which is placed over the face.

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.


Side effects:
Solvent abuse can result in a dazed appearance, unsteadiness, slurred speech and unpredictable behaviour. There is a real risk of vomiting, choking and possibly unconsciousness. At the very least, expect a king size head ache, and a less than handsome red rash around the mouth.

Health risks:
Under the influence of solvents, users can undertake dangerous and reckless acts and be at increased risk from accidents. Long term abuse can lead to a permanent 'sniffer's rash', conjunctivitis, liver, heart and kidney damage and in extreme cases, brain damage. Children are at the greatest risk and some have died after trying solvents for the first time

There is no evidence of physical dependence, although psychological dependence can develop.

Solvent abuse accounts for a death rate of over 70 people a year, the vast majority being under 20 years old.


The Law:
Solvent possession or abuse is not a criminal act in itself, although shopkeepers can be fined under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 if they knowingly sell to an abuser under 18.

Further info:
Re-Solv, UK national charity dedicated to the prevention of solvent and volatile substance abuse. Freephone National Helpline 0808 800 2345

Lee O'Brien Solvent Trust, campaigning against the sale of butane gas, sold as cigarette lighter refill gas, and to offer advice and support to those affected by solvent abuse.

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Special note:
This site is all about harm reduction. We realise that some people will take drugs no matter what advice they are given, so we have reproduced this guide for information purposes only. It is not medical advice. If you are being coerced into taking drugs, or are in any doubt about taking a substance, our advice is to always refuse.

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