Inhalant Substance Abuse: A Cause For Concern.

By Aiden Matthews

Inhalant Substance Abuse: A Cause For Concern.

It is said by experts, that inhalant abuse has over the years become the most common form of substance abuse experimentation among children.

Glue, Benzene, Petrol, Deodorant, and Lighter Gas or Lighter Fluid are the substances of choice among others and are classed as Solvents, Aerosols, Gasses, and Nitrites. These substances are neither illegal or age restricted and so very accessible, most often being found in and around our own households that children younger than the age of 10 years old have been found to be abusing them.

These substances are far from harmless and can cause severe lifelong damage and health related issues, especially in a child.

How Inhalants Affect The Brain:

•​These substances mostly affect ones nervous system and slows down activity in the brain. The effects short term is similar to that of alcohol use and abuse.

The Short Term Effects Include But Are Not Limited To:

• Vomiting.
• Feeling drowsy/sleepy.
• Slurred or distorted speech.
• Lack of coordination and body movement.
• Continuous throbbing or dull headache.
• Dizziness.
• Light headedness.
• Euphoria (Feelings of being high).
• Hallucinations and/or delusions.

Along with short term effects, long term effects and health related issues may come with intermittent or continuous abuse of these substances, such as:

• Liver and kidney damage.
• Hearing loss.
• Nerve damage causing loss of coordination and limb spasms.
• Delayed or suspended brain development.
• Brain damage due to lack of Oxygen to the brain,

Overdose on these substances result in Seizures, Coma, and Death. Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms Of Inhalant Use and Abuse Include:
• Nausea.
• Loss of appetite.
• Problems sleeping/Insomnia.
• Hand tremors.
• Poor memory.
• Chills and sweating.
• Muscle and joint pain.
• Mood changes such as Anxiety, Depression, Psychosis and
• Increased heart rate/Palpitations.

The prevalence of this type of substance abuse in predominantly low/poorer economic areas and the homeless community is on the rise, these are in situations whereby Children, Teens and Adults alike may go short or without food and warmth for themselves and even the whole family and these substance are known to supress feelings of hunger and cold physically, but can to be found abused in Suburban areas where substance experimentation in youth of all ages may occur. Cost can range from as little as R13 for a small bottle or container of glue or contact adhesive.

When it comes to treatment for substance abuse, it is a difficult task to find centres and programs for those whom cannot afford it and the waiting list to enter such facilities in the Public/Government funded sector can mean the difference between life and death. Even if you do end up being one of those who are fortunate enough to find a facility available with space, there is the sad and unfortunate situation that there are no Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Centres in the country that will or are registered to accept children under the age of 12 years of age, which leaves the question, What hope is there for our next generation of youth when it comes to the treatment of any and all substance abuse for those in childhood phase?

by Aiden Matthews