ATP Template with bundler

Solvent abuse


Solvent abuse, also known as volatile substance abuse, is the inhalation of volatile substances that contain chemicals such as butane or propane gas, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and acetone. These chemicals are often found in products such as glues, aerosols, gas refills, hairspray, nail polish remover and paint thinners etc.

Please note possession of nitrous oxide is now illegal unless the possession is in line with one of the legitimate statutory exceptions. Nitrous oxide is a Class C drug and consequences for unlawful possession could include an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment, a caution and for repeat serious offenders, a prison sentence.

Solvent abuse can kill, even if it's the first time they are used. Users can suffocate, choke and suffer heart attacks.

The effects of solvent abuse vary, in the short term, effects can include hallucinations, blackouts, sickness, dizziness, disorientation and headaches. Accidents caused due to suffering these effects also contribute to a number of deaths. Long term abuse can cause damage to the brain, heart, lungs, liver, muscles and kidneys.

For further information and support please see the websites in Related Information. 


There is no evidence to say that solvent abuse itself is physically addictive. However, long term users can develop a tolerance to the substances needing more to achieve the desired effect. This can lead to a dependency on the substance and a psychological addiction.

Please see the websites in the Related Information for more guidance on solvent abuse and drug addiction.


Some of the signs of solvent abuse are similar to those of alcohol abuse; lack of co-ordination, slurring words, drowsiness, chemical smell on the breath, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, mood swings, rash around nose and mouth, constant runny nose and eye irritation are all signs of possible substance abuse.

Please see the websites in the Related Information for more guidance on solvent abuse and drug addiction.


Solvent abuse itself is not illegal, as many of the products used during solvent abuse are normal household objects. However, it is illegal for a shopkeeper, or anyone else, to sell any substance that will, or its fumes if inhaled will, cause intoxication to a person under the age of eighteen. Similarly, it is illegal to sell to anyone he believes is acting on behalf of a person under eighteen years of age.

If you are aware of a shop selling age restricted items to underage persons, you can report this to your local police force or Trading Standards Office:

Find your local Trading Standards Office

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

If you can't find the answer?

Submit A Question