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Solvents are substances that are inhaled to get high. They include gas lighter refills, nail polish remover, aerosols containing hairspray, deodorants and air fresheners, tins or tubes of glue, some paints, thinners and correcting fluids, cleaning fluids, surgical spirit, dry-cleaning fluids and petroleum products. Solvents are usually flammable- avoid smoking and naked flames while taking these substances to reduce fire risk/harm from burns.
Solvents are depressant (downer) drugs which take effect very quickly resulting in an intense ‘rush’ which can last 1-45 minutes. They also lower your heart rate and breathing. People using them can experience hallucinations and they may feel more sociable and high as well as feeling dizzy, developing a ‘sniffers rash’ and may suffer from memory loss.
Solvents are usually sniffed from a cloth, a sleeve or a plastic bag. Gas products can be squirted directly into the back of the throat however this makes it difficult to control the dose and also increases the risk of suffocation. The hit is quite short so users tend to repeat the dose to keep the feeling going. There is no standard dose for solvents.
What you Need to Know
If you choose to use solvents:
- Squirting gas or aerosol products down the throat is a particularly dangerous way of taking the drug. It can make your throat swell so you can't breathe and slows down your heart. It is safer to use a cloth as a barrier between your mouth and the container
- Don't use plastic bags to inhale the fumes as this can increase the risk of suffocation
- Avoid sniffing in isolated or dangerous places and avoid physical activity or being frightened after sniffing
- It is best to avoid mixing solvents with other downer drugs such as alcohol and benzos as this increases the risk of overdose
The Intoxicating Substances Supply Act (1985) which was only in force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has been scrapped. This made it an offence to sell volatile substances (e.g. butane, aerosols, glue); to under 18s if it was believed they would be inhaled. The Psychoactive Substances Act now makes it an offence to sell volatile substance to anyone, regardless of age, if they believe it would be inhaled.
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