Drug Trends-Solvent Abuse

Facts and Figures

Solvent Abuse - VSA is not prolifically reported by the media and unless you or someone you know has been affected the general thought is it's a ‘thing of the past’ especially as the last government campaign was in the 1990’s.

All too often Solvent Abuse - VSA is not specified in assessments by drug agencies with the expectation that their clients will mention their Solvent Abuse - VSA under the ‘any other drugs’ heading. As volatile substances are legal, ordinary, every day products consideration should also be given to the misapprenhension that users do not consider what they are doing is a form of drug abuse. 

  • In 67% of VSA deaths there was no evidence of previous Solvent Abuse - VSA or the history was unknown
  • Butane (from all sources including aerosol propellants) accounted for 74% of Solvent Abuse - VSA deaths

  • Just over half (52%) of deaths occurred at home and 22% of deaths were recorded as having occurred in hospital, or as ‘dead on arrival’ at hospital. Nearly 9% died at the home of a family friend

  • In 2009 the youngest person to die was aged 15 and the oldest was aged 66 years old

  • The majority of deaths (72% overall and 80% in 2009) are due to the direct toxic effects

  • Although as an inert gas helium is not a volatile substance, the increasing number of deaths from helium has been recorded by St Georges with 26 deaths in 2008 and 46 in 2009. 93% of helium-related deaths were suicides

  • The most commonly used substances amongst school pupils in England are cannabis and volatile substances

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