Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Petrol Sniffing / Gasoline Sniffing
Sniffing gasoline is a popular form of inhalant abuse. People inhale the fumes and this leads to intoxication. This type of inhalant abuse is associated with poverty. In recent years it has been a great concern in Australia because of the number of aboriginal community members who have been involved in this form of substance abuse. Sniffing petrol can be lethal, and it is already responsible for many deaths around the world.
Hydrocarbons in petrol depress the central nervous system an this can create a state similar to alcohol intoxication. Lead adds to the effect of intoxication. Even unleaded gasoline can still contain small traces of lead. This can increase the ability of the substance to produce hallucinations.
It doesn’t take long to become intoxicated from sniffing petrol; usually not more than five minutes, and people will feel the effects after just one minute. The petrol fumes enter the lungs, and from there into the bloodstream and on up to the brain. The typical effects that users of this inhalant will experience include:
* Slurred speech
* Lack of coordination
* Slowed down reflexes
* Increased libido
* A feeling of lightness
* Disassociation with the environment
* Impaired decision making
* Muscle weakness
* Increased chattiness and extroversion
Sniffing gasoline is an easy way for people to temporarily escape their problems; it can also help relieve boredom. This is a substance that is relatively easy for people to get their hands on. It is much easier to buy petrol than it is illegal drugs, and it is also a lot cheaper as well. When the aboriginal communities in Australia were face with an alcohol clampdown many of them responded by turning to inhalant abuse as an alternative.
People don’t usually start out with the intention of using these substances long-term, but it just sneaks up on them. In the beginning they may do it just to experiment or because of peer pressure. It doesn’t take too long for it to become a crutch that they need to make it through the day. Inhalant abuse can quickly take over the life of the individual and destroys everything they once valued.
Sniffing petrol can have a devastating effect on the body long-term. Even short-term use of this inhalant can be dangerous. Gasoline contains an alarming number of different toxins that can seriously harm the body. Over a period of time these toxins will build up in the body until they start to damage the different organs including the brain.
Some of the most common dangers include:
* Respiratory problems
* Permanent brain damage
* Depressed immune system
* Blood abnormalities
* Heart damage
* Liver and kidney damage
* Chronic headaches
* Chronic fatigue
* Nose bleeds
* Irregular heart beat
* Low birth weight for babies of mothers who abused this inhalant
* High and low blood pressure
* Brain hemorrhage
* Family problems
* Financial problems
* Death. 100 people died of petrol sniffing between 1981 and 2003 in Australia alone.
Those individual who sniff petrol can exhibit a number of symptoms including:
* They have a gasoline aroma on their clothes and breath
* Body tremors
* Clumsiness and poor coordination
* Mood swings
* Periods of depression
* Personality changes
* Memory loss and blackouts
* Loss of appetite
* Secretive behavior and lying
* A rash around their nose or mouth
* Inability to sleep
* Always tired
* Periods when they are extremely talkative
* Inability to hold down a job
* Unable to meet family and social commitments
The withdrawal symptoms associated with giving up sniffing petrol tend to be mild when compared to some other forms of substance abuse. The most common symptoms include:
* Mental fogginess
* Mood swings
* Reduced appetite
Petrol sniffing can cause a lot of damage to mental and physical functioning. The only realistic treatment is complete abstinence before too much harm is done. Once the individual has stopped the abuse they will then have to work on building a new life in recovery. This usually involves finding new coping strategies and better ways for dealing with stress. If the individual only quits the inhalant abuse, without making any other changes, they can soon be attracted to other negative behaviors. Going through rehab is likely to increase the chances of an inhalant abuser making a success of recovery.
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