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It’s a cheap, widely available and legal high, and therefore especially attractive to young people who may find it difficult to get hold of illicit drugs. But make no mistake, solvent abuse is extremely dangerous. It can kill, quickly and without warning.
Solvents can be found in most homes, in such everyday products as lighter fluid, nail polish remover, correcting fluid, paint thinners and glue. The vapours from such preparations can be inhaled to produce effects similar to those caused by illegal drugs, including dizziness, a feeling of unreality, euphoria or even hallucinations. Those who have experienced it liken the effect to being extremely drunk.
Due to their widespread availability, solvents are number 4 in the list of the most popular drugs, after alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. Yet, unlike the other three, they are comparatively little talked-about, making their influence even more insidious. Moreover, solvents can be very addictive, and it’s an addiction that’s relatively easy to conceal.
However, abusing solvents can be lethal, even for someone who is trying it for the very first time. This is because it can affect blood pressure and breathing, as well as alter the heart rate, possibly bringing on heart failure. It may also cause vomiting, which can result in asphyxiation if the solvent abuser is in a semi-conscious or unconscious state. Even if these hazards are avoided, long term abusers can also suffer significant liver, lung, brain and kidney damage.
Bearing in mind that the age group most likely to be involved in this practice are 13 to 16 year olds, it may be a good idea to reduce the availability of solvents in your own home. If you check the labels, you’ll find that many ingredients in household products are toxic. Try replacing such products with non-toxic alternatives, and help to acquaint people with the dangers.
Remember, there is no safe way of abusing solvents.