Category: Depressant

Also know as:

Aerosols, Butane, Gas, Glue, Volatile substances


A wide range of glues, gases and aerosols containing volatile substances, which people sniff to get high. Many are normal household products – such as: gas lighter refills, 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 petrol.

How is it taken

Glues, gases and aerosols can all be sniffed or inhaled through the nose and mouth. There are various methods of doing this but, whichever is chosen, it’s difficult to control the dose and can be fatal.

The risks of taking solvents are increased if they are used in an enclosed space or if a plastic bag is used to cover the nose and mouth.


Glues, gases and aerosols are depressants that slow down your brain’s responses – similar to the effects of alcohol.

Effects can vary and depend on what sort of gas, glue or aerosol is being taken, but common side effects include feeling drunk, dizzy, giggly or in a dream-like state. More negative side effect include mood swings, aggression, hallucinations, vomiting and blackouts.


Short term:

Hangover for a day or two. Nausea, vomiting, blackouts, bad cough, spots/sores around mouth, persistent cold and heart problems. Inhaling with a plastic bag can cause suffocation. It is extremely dangerous to squirt gas into the mouth as this can cause sudden death. Sometimes people’s hearts stop beating if they have been sniffing solvents.

Long term:

Damage to the brain, liver, kidneys, nervous system, lungs and reproductive organs.

Legal Status

Solvent misuse isn’t illegal. However, under Scottish law you can be prosecuted for ‘recklessly’ selling any substances to any age group if you suspect or know they’re going to be inhaled. It’s also illegal in England and Wales for shopkeepers to sell you intoxicating substances if they think you’re likely to be inhaling them. The law makes it an offence to sell/supply gas lighter refills to anyone under the age of 18. This law applies to the whole of the UK.

In Scotland, Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA) is in itself grounds for referral to the Children’s Panel -not because solvent abuse consumption is illegal, but because of the extreme danger presented by VSA.

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