Solvent abuse is most common among teenagers. For most teenagers solvent abuse is a passing fad, but it can cause huge problems at school and in the home.
Commonly abused solvents include products found in most homes, such as glues, paint thinner, nail polish remover, lighter fuels and aerosol sprays such as deodorants. They are inhaled from a soaked rag, coat sleeve or directly from a bottle. Aerosols are often sprayed directly into the mouth and lungs.
Inhaling solvents can give a 'high' or 'buzz' which is like feeling drunk, and the effects usually wear off after about half an hour. The user can appear drunk, with slurred speech, staggering, giggling and lack of control, and they can feel drowsy afterwards.
A person's judgement can be affected and they can become aggressive. Hallucinations, vomiting and blackouts are also common. There is usually a hangover after use, with headache and poor concentration.
Deaths from solvent abuse are rare but they can happen for a variety of reasons, and can happen the first time they are used. People under the influence of solvents are more likely to have accidents. They may also choke, either on the solvent itself when sprayed into the lungs, or on their vomit. Users who place a plastic bag over their heads to try and get a better effect could suffocate. Many solvents can also cause heart failure.