Solvents (other inhalants, chrome paint, glue)

Inhalants are a range of products that produce vapours which, when inhaled, may cause a person to feel intoxicated or "high". Inhalants are "depressants", which means that they slow down the activity of the brain and central nervous system.

Inhalants include organic solvents present in many domestic and industrial products (eg. glue, aerosol, paints, industrial solvents, lacquer thinners, gasoline or petrol, and cleaning fluids) and the aliphatic nitrites such as amyl nitrite. These substances are inhaled through the nose or mouth, or sprayed into a plastic bag, poured into a bottle, or soaked onto a cloth before being inhaled.

Effects of inhalants

Inhalants are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs, so small amounts can affect you quite quickly (3-5 minutes). The effects are usually over within an hour of inhaling.

Immediate effects

  • Fewer inhibitions, laughing, becoming excited and generally feeling intoxicated are effects felt within three to five minutes of using inhalants. A sustained "high" can be achieved by repeated use.
  • Excitement: The person's mood can vary from mild excitement to euphoria.
  • Confusion and disorientation: Inhalants can also cause hallucinations and delusions.
  • Drowsiness: The initial excitement is often followed by drowsiness.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Inhalants may cause sneezing, coughing, glazed eyes or a runny nose, like having a cold or the 'flu.
  • Nausea: Inhalants can make people feel sick and have diarrhoea.
  • Unpleasant breath: After using inhalants people often have the smell of the product on their breath.
  • Nosebleeds and sores: Inhalants may also cause nosebleeds, bloodshot eyes and sores around the mouth and nose.

These effects usually occur within an hour of inhaling. Hangovers and headaches may occur after the immediate effects have passed. Sometimes these last for several days.

Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation 


Solvents/inhalants information page by the Australian Drug Foundation - Drug Info Clearinghouse

The Australian Drug Foundation is a national service aimed at helping to prevent alcohol and other drug problems, and reduce alcohol and other drug harms in the community. The ADF's information page on inhalants lists the effects, tolerance, withdrawal and treatment options.

Fact sheet regarding chroming/inhalants by Reach Out!

The aim of Reach Out! is to improve young people's mental health and well-being by providing support information and referrals. Their information provides details about chroming.

If someone has an adverse reaction while using inhalants, it is very important that they receive professional help as soon as possible. A quick response can save their life.

  • Immediately remove the obstruction to their breathing (eg. plastic bag).
  • Call an ambulanceby dialling 000. Don't delay because you think you or your friend might get into trouble. Ambulance officers are not obliged to involve the police.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Ensure adequate ventilation by keeping crowds back and opening windows. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious, don't leave them on their back they could choke. Turn them on their side and into the recovery position. Gently tilt their head back so their tongue does not block their airways.

Reference: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.


A community based service for people aged 12 - 25 and their families, Headspace provides help for issues including health, education, work, mental health and drug & alcohol use.

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

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