Inhalant abuse became popular with young teens in the 1960s with “glue sniffing.” Since then, a broader variety of inhalants have become popular. Inhalant use typically involves younger teens or school-age children. Groups of children will use inhalants usually as an experiment.

Commonly abused inhalants include model glue, spray paints, cleaning fluids, gasoline, liquid typewriter correction fluid, and aerosol propellants for deodorants or hair sprays.

The chemicals are poured into a plastic bag or soaked into rags, then inhaled. The drugs are absorbed through the respiratory tract and an altered mental state is noted within 5 – 15 minutes.

Adverse effects associated with inhalant abuse include liver or kidney damage, convulsions, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), brain damage, and sudden death. Most inhalant use occurs amongst teens or preteens who do not have access to illicit drugs or alcohol.