JUN 27, 2017 9:08 AM PDT

What's the Harm in Sniffing Glue?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Glue sniffing was a rampant health problem among young teenagers in the early 1980s. The trend took off as more people discovered that they could induce feelings of euphoria and exhilaration. But there are steep consequences to pay for this temporary high.

The psychoactive effects of inhalants derive from volatile chemicals like ethanol, xylene, and toluene. These chemicals give off vapors that, when inhaled, can alter neurotransmitter processes in the brain. But this fleeting moment of euphoria can be followed with serious health problems, such as dizziness, nausea, convulsions, cardiac arrhythmia, and even asphyxia.

Given the current opioid crisis, it may seem like glue sniffing is not as pernicious. But the problem of inhalant abuse hasn't just gone away; it may simply be overshadowed by the other drug. But as long as we continue to have common chemicals like acetone, cleaners, polishes in the household, we should continue to be aware of the potential for its abuse.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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