Title: Drugwise: Growing Up Straight in a Chemical Culture
Author: Jim Parker
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: September 2003
Catalog Number: 212


A lot of younger kids get into
inhalants just because they’re
easy to get.
That’s too bad. Because in a lot of ways, inhalants could
easily fit in that “most dangerous” category
we talked about a while ago.

There are three
main types of inhalants:
glue, gasoline, and lighter fluid;
oils, hairsprays and deodorants; and
a family of gases that includes amyl nitrite and nitrous oxide.
All are inhaled, or sniffed, through the nose or mouth to the

Solvents produce effects like alcohol. Users
act drunk, slur their words (or lapse into
incoherence), stagger,
and generally act
weird. Effects usually last less than an hour.

Solvents are dangerous
in two ways.

For one thing, their effects
kick in
instantly–and so can an overdose.
Since they’re
not digested by the stomach or filtered
by the liver like other drugs, they’re a
blast of raw chemical gunk rushing from the nose to the brain in
a single

And that’s exactly
how long it takes for solvents to kill someone.

Solvents can also cause problems
memory and thinking, due
to their
toxic effects on brain cells.

Aerosol sprays pose other dangers since sniffers can
easily overdo it and coat their alveoli–the tiny air cells in the lungs that process
oxygen–with hairspray or paint or other
When this happens,
suffocation and death can result.

Nitrites pose less immediate hazards, but they
can be risky all the same.

Isopropyl nitrite–sometimes sold legally as “liquid incense” or “head cleaner“–produces
a short-term,
dizzy kind of buzz, which may be linked to
a shut off of
to the inner brain.
Longer-term effects can include severe
dizzy spells.

Nitrites can also be dangerous
swallowed. And some users of nitrous oxide (AKA “laughing gas“)
have been known to
suffocate inside cars or other enclosed spaces
with open tanks of nitrous oxide.

Want to jump ahead (or go back)
to a particular drug or drug category? Click in the table below
to go there, or use the links, below right, to continue with
the main text.

Alcohol Downers Speed
Cocaine Marijuana Hallucinogens
Inhalants Narcotics Other Do It Now Info

Continue with Chapter 3: Downers
Continue with Chapter 4: Locks & Keys
Go to Table of Contents


This is one in a series
of publications on drugs, behavior, and health published by Do
It Now Foundation. Check us out online at www.doitnow.org


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