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Glue Sniffing

Glue sniffing became popular with young adolescents who experimented with model aeroplane glue and found that by sniffing the vapours a feeling of euphoria and exhilaration was achieved.

Since the initial popularity of glue, other inhalants have become popular including gasoline, typewriter correction fluids , paints, lighter fluid, cleaning fluids, hairsprays and a variety of other aerosols.

Vapour inhalation is achieved by saturating a rag with the substance to be inhaled, by sneezing or pouring it into a paper or plastic bag and inhaling it by heating the solvent on a pan to promote rapid vapourisation. Direct spraying on to the back of the mouth is also used.

Affects achieved include dizziness, loss of coordination, muscular movement, slurring of speech, mental deterioration, hallucinations and finally drowsiness which can lead on to coma and respiratory failure. When under the influence, death can occur whilst attempting the impossible - attempting to fly from high buildings, or swimming in deep water.

Sudden death from heart failure can occur if extreme exertion is attempted immediately after sniffing. Suffocation can occur by using a plastic bag as the method of delivery.

Treatment is directed at stopping inhalation. It is very difficult to identify the glue sniffer unless the odour can be detected or signs of intoxication are present.

Tolerance to solvent inhalation can develop and it can take larger amounts to achieve the initial effect. However, addiction does not appear to occur.

Your doctor should be consulted if your child is abusing inhalants. A young teenager who is in the habit of glue sniffing needs careful psychological support and attempts should be made to find the reason for the habit and to explain the seriousness of the condition. Glue sniffing can be the first contact with drugs and may lead on to the use of illegal drugs such as heroin.

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