Volatile solvents refer to a large group of chemical compounds found in countless household and industrial products (e.g., nail polish remover, butane, paint thinners, paint, glue, gasoline, lighter fluid, correction fluid, markers, hair spray, aerosol deodorants, non-stick cooking sprays, aerosol computer cleaning products, refrigerants and certain cleaning fluids, to name but a few).
Highly varied class of substances many of which are derived from oil and natural gas. The most common substances are:
Central nervous system depressant:
|Mechanism of action|
|Routes of administration||
These substances are inhaled and several methods can be used:
|Effects sought out by the user|
|Common toxic effects|
|Effects associated with chronic use|
Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)
Tolerance develops gradually after frequent use.
Physical dependence is infrequent and is usually mild, while psychological dependence is relatively infrequent.
Possible, but rare. Symptoms are similar to those seen with other CNS depressants (e.g., opioids):
Onset and duration of action
|Route of |
|Onset of |
|Inhalation||Very fast, effects are almost instant||A few minutes||Usually, from 5 to 30 minutes, rarely up to an hour|
- No antidote available.
- Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.
If you need help or want to learn more:
Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada.