Note: This module has not been updated since the original Addictionary (1992). Much of the information is probably obsolete.

What drugs are easiest for young children to find around the house? Probably some kind of organic solvent or aerosol. Examples are gasoline, benzene, and toluene. They are common in household products.


Gasoline, glue, and other inhalants are epidemic among kids. Cans of toluene-based spray paint are also popular in the general population. Abusers spray the paint into an empty soda can or onto rags or into bags, then sniff the vapors until they become intoxicated. Hexane, found in paint thinner, and trichlorethylene, in aerosol sprays, are often used as well.


Older adolescents may find amyl nitrite, a drug used to relieve symptoms of angina pectoris. It comes in cloth-covered glass capsules that pop when they are crushed — hence the street name “poppers.” Butyl nitrite is often sold as a room deodorizer, and is known as Locker Room or Rush.

These substances produce dizziness, lightheadedness, and disorientation. Nitrous oxide, used by dentists as “laughing gas” and sometimes in cans of whipped cream, can also produce giddiness when inhaled.

Besides the danger of suffocation or accident, long-term toxic effects of inhalants include memory loss, liver and kidney damage, seizures, cardiac problems, and respiratory arrest.

Inhalants, see also: Blackouts, Cocaine, Drugs, Fantasy, Heroin, Impaired professionals, Marijuana, Moodifiers, Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine, Pregnancy, Tolerance.

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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