The different terminology can be confusing, often known as Solvent Abuse, in more recent years Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA), also called Inhalant Abuse, Sniffing, Buzzing, Huffing, Tooting.
It is deliberating inhaling volatile substances from many ordinary products such as aerosols, gases and solvents with the intention of achieving a ‘high’ - intoxication - (a change in mental state).
Volatile substances are legal, cheap and easy to access with the possibility of getting a quick ‘high’, however the 'high' comes with potential risks to health - short and long term, including coma and death.
Volatile Substances Abused
Found in most peoples’ homes, public places and the workplace and include:
Aerosols - sprays that contain propellants and solvents eg hairsprays, deodorants.
Solvent based products - liquid or semi-solid substances that vaporise at room temperature giving off fumes eg paints, correcting fluids, petrol, some glues.
Gases - medical anaesthetics such as nitrous oxide (commonly known as laughing gas) eg whipped cream dispensers and other household or commercial products containing gases include propane tanks and refrigerants and butane cigarette lighter refills.
Nitrites - amyl, butyl and isobutyl nitrite, together known as alkyl nitrites or poppers, with ‘Poppers’ often sold as ‘room odorisers’ or ‘liquid aroma’.
Recognising products that can be abused
Many UK products carry the Solvent Abuse Can Kill Instantly warning. Highly flammable, irritant and toxic symbols may also be present on potentially abusable products.
Although many products do not have specific Solvent Abuse warnings they still have the same associated risks. Some may have more general indications of the potential for abuse, such as not to inhale the fumes or flammable or irritant symbols.