The Truth About Solvents
So you're probably thinking, why are solvents such an issue within teenage life? Solvents have been around for a long time and in the 1970's the media hyped them up so much that there was a moral panic about the effects and the widespread use of the drug. Some journalists made the effects sound worse than heroin. The overreaction was based on misunderstanding of the size of the problem and it's nature.
Although the impact, now on mass, has been desensitised due to such moral panics people still need to be educated into the effects and hazards of sniffing substances. Solvents are found in things like glue, gas and aerosol cans and are taken by inhaling and sniffing them.
When sniffing, you're polluting you're body's vital organs with poisons and toxins, which with prolonged use may cause serious damage.
Sniffing is a very unpredictable habit. Like other drugs the effects are different on different people. This therefore causes people to have different side effects.
The main side effects of solvent abuse are:
- Sores in the mouth and nose
- Dry throat
- Thirst all the time
- Bloodshot Eyes
- Bad Breath
- Smell of Solvents
- Loss of Concentration
All the side effects will clear up if you stop using solvents. Nothing bad would happen unless you put your body through unnecessary stress.
These effects may seem easily identifiable but in reality solvent abusers know this and they cover them up. The mental side effects are more difficult to hide but many people put this down to the normal mood swings of people our age. This is when things become dangerous. If the abuser continues to sniff, the substances will corrupt organs like the heart and liver. This can have devastating consequences and even lead to death.
Even if the person has only tried sniffing once, there is still a chance that they could die. Suffocation and heart failure could happen at anytime and not necessarily after prolonged use.
So with the exception of suffocation and heart failure you can also die from the effects that sniffing has on your bodily functions. Simple things like walking and vision can be affected so much that you can't do either. Things become blurry and sometimes hallucinations can occur (these can be good and bad and are called a 'trip'). This is the most dangerous part of solvent abuse. The best way to stop silly things happening, if you're sniffing, is to stay away from busy roads, rivers, railways and tops of buildings. Therefore if you're hallucinating, you're less likely to hurt yourself or someone else. Hallucinating not only makes people think they're somewhere else but it also makes them feel invincible. People, after sniffing, have been known to jump out in front of cars and out of windows, thinking they can't be hurt.
Five times more people die from solvents than they do from ecstasy, amphetamine and cocaine altogether.
Solvents are not one of the drugs you can go to prison for possessing or misusing, though you could if you supply them to someone under-18.
What to do in an Emergency:
If someone is having a bad trip stay with them and keep them calm, tell the that what they're seeing isn't real and it will end soon. Never ever leave them alone as they go off and do something stupid.
If someone gets burnt by a solvent, call an ambulance immediately and whilst waiting run the burn under cold water to soothe it and make the person comfortable.
If someone falls unconscious after inhaling a solvent put them in the recovery position and cal an ambulance immediately.
If you or anybody you know are having problems with solvents, try the following places for help and support @ the Addictions Links Page.