-Continued from last week
INHALANTS bear the following street names: rush snappers, buzz bomb, huff, laughing gas, Satan’s secret, toilet water just to name a few.
Inhalants can be physically and psychologically addictive. Users state a strong urge to continue using inhalants, especially after continued use after many days.
Habitual users coming off the inhalants suffer withdrawal symptoms which include nausea, excessive sweating, muscle cramps, headaches, cramps, chills, agitation, with shaking and hallucination. In severe cases withdrawal causes convulsions.
Inhalants can be categorised into four different types, that is liquids which vaporise at room temperature, these are found in numerous easily available household and industrial products including paint thinners, degreasers, gasoline, glues, correction fluids and felt-tip marker fluids.
Sprays such as spray paints, deodorant and hair sprays, vegetable oil sprays for cooking and fabric protector sprays can also be abused.
Gases including medical anaesthetics like (ether, chloroform nitrous acid commonly called the laughing gas) butane lighters, propane tanks, whipped cream dispensers and refrigerants form the third type.
Nitrates (a chemical compound found in food preservatives, leather cleaner, room deodorisers) are considered a special class of inhalants which act directly on the nervous system, brain and spinal cord, they are used mainly as sexual enhancers and are commonly known as ‘‘poppers’’.
Inhalants use can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, liver marrow and other organs. Inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly, users can experience nausea and nosebleeds and lose their sense of hearing and smell. Chronic use leads to muscle wasting and reduced muscle tone and the poisonous chemicals gradually damage the lungs and the immune system. An inhalant user risks sudden sniffing death syndrome. Death can occur the first time or the 100th time an inhalant is used.
Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce a mind altering, within seconds the user experiences intoxicating and other effects similar to those of alcohol. Some of the short-term effects include, drunk dizzy or dazed appearance, inability to co-ordinate movement, slurred speech, hallucinations and delusions, unconsciousness, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to heart failure and death within minutes. Death from suffocation may occur by replacing oxygen in the lungs with the chemical and then in the nervous system so that breathing ceases.
The long term effects are memory impairment, diminished intelligence, disorientation, hearing loss, bone marrow damage, depression, serious and at times irreversible damage to the heart, liver, kidneys lungs and brain. With the above mentioned effects of these substances, it is indicative of the youth behaviours who are abusing these substances, they flout sticking, delusional and violent behaviours as they withdraw from these substances and crave their next fix.
-Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist. For help and more information contact 00263772399734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org