Solvents produce effects like alcohol. Users
act drunk, slur their words (or lapse into total
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 heartbeat.
And that’s exactly
how long it takes for solvents to kill someone.
Solvents can also cause problems
with 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 sludge.
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 oxygen
flow to the inner brain.
Longer-term effects can include severe headaches
and dizzy spells.
Nitrites can also be dangerous
if 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.