Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Inhalants: Increasing awareness

Ever have you thought of people will get addicted by inhaling glue stick? I am surprised to know the fact that people can actually get addicted from repeatedly sniffing it. [1]

From my previous blogs, I had discussed two of the three prevalent drugs used by teenagers. In this post, I’d like to talk about the second popular drug that is used by teenagers nowadays – inhalants. Teenagers are identified to be the most prevalent users of inhalants, this is because inhalants are easy to access to, they are cheap and it’s legal. [2][3]

According to the Australian Police [3], young students tend to use inhalants compared to older students. Like what I’ve stated in my previous blog, teenagers are in the stage where they have strong curiosity. Once peer pressure exists during their lifetime as a heating element and curiosity being the fuel, ‘fire’ ignited, chances for teenagers to try inhalants have increased. From the survey, 26% of all students had used inhalants at some point in their lives with 32% of them are 12-year-olds and 15% of them are 17-years-olds. [3]

The effect  

How do inhalants affect the brain? According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhalants are depressants. Unlike alcohol, it slows down the activity between our brain and nervous system. [4]

However specific effects have to depend on different people. Some of the factors are: [1][3]

  • the individual’s size, weight and health,
  • the amount of drugs that is inhaled,
  • whether the person has been using other drugs or not, and
  • the environment when the person is taking the drug.

Teenagers who are after for inhalants mostly are for the reason of getting ‘high’ . They will experience a mild euphoria and feeling less restrained. [3][5]

The side effects are getting drowsy, having flu-like symptoms, getting diarrhoea, having unpleasant breath, having nosebleed and sores, and showing reckless behaviour which ends up with serious accidents. [3]

Serious side effects may include muscle spasm due to damage of myelin – a protective sheathing found around a nerve fiber that helps nervous transmission; and also heart failure. [4]


There are cases that teenagers who uses inhalants suffocated to death. This is because for example they use plastic bags to concentrate the fumes, and since they are not sober after that they might get suffocated inside the plastic bag. [5]

There are always concerns on adolescents who do drugs. It is worrisome that inhalants are stepping-stones for the teenagers to use illicit drugs. This is the main reason that teenagers are needed to be educated when they were first found to be using drugs regardless of how minor it is. [3][6]

What parents can do to help?

Since there are no signs of a teenager who is using inhalants, parents should observe the abnormality of their children’s behaviour, for example the finding of unusual amounts of glues and aerosol containers in their possession; sudden and rapid ‘drunken’ behaviour, sores around their nose and mouth, and chemical smells on their clothing’s or breaths. When they are suspicious of using inhalants, the first thing is to be calm, approach them by showing your concern, support and listen to what they have to say. [3]

‘Curiosity kills the cat’, quote doesn’t exist without a reason. Early education is the key  since the law right now is difficult to fully prevent future incidence. From my experience, I have to thank my parents that they told me sniffing correction fluid is bad for health since I was young and that actually prevented me from intentionally sniffing it which might lead me to get addicted to it.



[1] Drug info 2015, Inhalant facts, australian drug foundation, retrieved 7 May 2016, <;

[2] Drug info 2016, Drug law in Australia, australian drug foundation, retreived 7 May 2016,<;

[3] Australian Police 2012, Inhalants Drug Info,  retrieved 7 May 2016, <;

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse 2012, Drugfacts: Inhalants, NIDA, retrieved 7 May 2016, <;

[5] Australian Institute of Criminology 2015, Inhalants ,Australian Government, retrieved 7 May 2016, <;

[6] Wolfe, H.C. 2013, The New England Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition – Executive Summary, Drug Free Australia, retrieved 7 May 2016. <;


One comment on “Inhalants: Increasing awareness

  1. ffongg
    May 10, 2016

    Hello Jessica,

    At the introduction, you started by asking the reader a question, that’s question is really catch my attention. “addicted by inhaling glue stick”, it’s suddenly remind me of my childhood. As I grown up in a developing country, I saw a lot of people inhaling glue on the street, I was so freak out like you did. I was like “how can they inhale that glue? it’s smell so bad!!”
    What they did were, put the into the plastic bag and cover the bag with their mouth and nose and inhale it.
    It’s very good point that you raise concern about “education”, I also think education is play an important role.
    However, when u stated that “parents should observe” their kids, so how about if they don’t have parents? Because most of the people that I saw, doesn’t have parents/guardian which is one of the reason that they walked into the wrong trace I guess.
    Overall, fascinating blog! Thank for your posted.

    Fong Chao


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Geelong - Wednesday 3pm and tagged , , , , .

Deakin Authors

%d bloggers like this: