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lighter fuel, deodorant, glue
liquid solvent, liquid petroleum gases



Sniffing substances is not a new craze; it has been going on for thousands of years.

The practice of solvent abuse was first recorded in the 1950s, in Glasgow and Portsmouth.



A variety of household products, including: deodorants, correction fluids, lighter fuel, glue products etc.

There are three main groups:

Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPGs)
Gas lighter refills

Liquid Solvents
Correction fluid
Nail polish
Nail polish remover

Solvent-Based Glues
Adhesives used for tiling floors, wood and plastic

Please note this is only a small list.


method of use

Liquid solvents and solvent glues are usually sniffed from a plastic bag, rag or handkerchief, from the collars and cuffs of clothes, from containers or directly into the mouth.



The effects of inhaling substances are similar to those of being intoxicated on alcohol.

The effects happen quickly because the substances enter the bloodstream from the lungs instead of the stomach. This means it is possible to become intoxicated before you realise, especially if this is your first time, usually within less than half a minute.

Users usually become excitable and may laugh or burst into tears, users may fall over and may even become unconscious.

Some people have reported hallucinations and some have reported that they have heard voices.

The effects of inhaling wear off quickly, so to stay 'high' it is necessary to keep on inhaling.


health risks

Overdose can lead to collapse, coma and even death.

What to do in the event of an overdose

Inhaling substances is dangerous and you can do yourself serious harm, and even cause long-term damage to your body or death.

Some risks are damage to the bone marrow, kidneys, liver, lungs or nervous system.

The inhalation of LPGs may cause the body to over-produce the hormone adrenaline, which causes the heart to beat faster and cause a disturbance to its rhythm, and there may even be a real danger that the heart may arrest. This can happen the very first time a person uses solvents, even if they are otherwise totally healthy - it is known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Even if this does not happen it could cause vomiting, with the danger that the user may inhale their vomit and choke to death.

The throat tissues and the larynx may swell if LPGs and aerosols are being sprayed directly into the mouth. The swelling could be to such a degree that the airway becomes restricted, and asphyxiation and death could follow if urgent medical help is not received.

Users often expose themselves to the danger of accidents whilst intoxicated.



Tolerance can develop with continued use.


the law

The sale or supply of solvents is regulated by the Intoxicating Substance Supply Act 1985. This Act makes it an offence for anyone to sell or supply a solvent-based product to anyone under the age of 18, or a person suspected of buying a product with the intent to supply to a person under 18.

Published in Alcohol & Drugs