The harmful use of drugs in Ghana especially among the youth is assuming alarming proportions and impacting negatively on the individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole. 

The situation gets worsened on daily basis with different drugs being abused by the youth. Moving from the abuse of alcohol and weed to Tramadol and energy drinks.  

Recent reports by the media revealed the abuse of super glue and sprays by some youth in Ghana. It is very worrying considering the short and long term dangers associated with the abuse of such volatile substances.

It is very obvious that those using or abusing these substances are naive about theircomplications and impact on their health. It is, therefore, very necessary that concerned individuals, NGOs, organisations, agencies and the government take immediate steps to help control the situation.

It is in light of this that I have written this article to educate the general public through the media on the hidden dangers associated with the abuse of such volatile substances.

There is a wide range of glues, gases and aerosols containing volatile substances, which people sniff to get high.

Glues, gases and aerosol spray contain volatile substances which are depressants, which means they slow down your brain and body’s responses and produce a similar effect to being drunk.

The effects can vary from person to person and depend on what specific glue, gas or aerosol has been used, but the common effects can include:

Feeling like being drunk with dizziness, dreaminess fits of the giggles, and difficulty thinking straight.

In the case of some glues, gases and aerosols, you can develop a red rash around the mouth.

Getting a hangover afterwards – such as a severe headache, feeling tired and/or feeling depressed.

Effects of glues, gases abuse on  people behaviour

The effects can vary from person to person and depend on what specific glue, gas or aerosol has been used, but the common effects can include:

– mood swings

-aggressive behaviour

-hallucinations

– vomiting and blackouts

How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size, whether you’ve eaten and what other drugs you may have also taken.

The serious health risks

Sniffing glue is a cheap but a dangerous way people have used to get high for many years. Solvent-glue is one of many common substances that fall under the category of “inhalants.” Others include: aerosol sprays cleaners and other household chemicals

Common forms of solvent glues include model glue and rubber cement.

Inhalants are typically used by adolescents as a cheaper and more easily accessible alternative to marijuana and other drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse [USA] notes that inhalants are the only class of substances used more by younger teens than older teens.

Dangers of sniffing glue

Sniffing glue can be life-threatening. Even if the result isn’t fatal, the risks associated with glue and other inhalants include possible brain damage and severe breathing problems.

Your experience with sniffing glue may be much different than another person’s. In addition, the effect of one glue-sniffing attempt could be more or less severe than earlier or subsequent experiences.

The following includes some of the more serious risks and dangers of sniffing glue.

Acute respiratory failure

Acute respiratory failure is a potentially fatal condition that can occur when something impairs your ability to breathe or directly affects your lungs. This prevents a sufficient amount of oxygen from reaching the rest of the body.

The use of glue and other inhalants, as well as excessive alcohol consumption, are all possible causes of acute respiratory failure. Ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, as well as other lung problems, can also lead to chronic respiratory failure, a condition in which the body can’t take in enough oxygen over time. In serious cases, chronic respiratory failure can lead to coma.

Brain damage

Sniffing glue and other inhalants — especially those that include the solvents toluene and naphthalene — can damage the myelin sheath, the thin covering around the nerve fibres in the brain and the rest of your nervous system. This damage can cause long-term harm to brain function, causing neurological problems similar to those seen with multiple sclerosis.

Heart rhythm disturbances

Exposure to the chemicals in glue can lead to an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). In some cases, abnormal rhythms can lead to fatal heart failure. This is known as sudden sniffing death syndrome (SSDS), and it can occur from just one attempt.

Other serious health risks associated with sniffing glue include seizures, liver damage, kidney damage, choking (often from vomit), injuries resulting from impaired judgment, such as falls or car accidents, hearing impairment, headaches, loss of coordination, abdominal pains etc.

Are there any benefits?

The “high” you can get from sniffing glue or inhaling other chemicals may cause a temporary sense of euphoria or hallucinations. However, these feelings only last a few minutes and aren’t worth the risks to your health.

Inhaling glue and other chemicals is dangerous and should never be attempted

The long term effects

Long-term abuse can damage the muscles, liver and kidneys. While very long term use, such as 10 years or more, can cause a lasting impairment of brain function (especially affecting how the brain controls body movement).

It can be hard to get the dose right. Just enough will give the desired ‘high’ – a little too much can result in a coma or even death.

Unsteadiness, disorientation/confusion and fainting can all contribute to the risk of accidents which are implicated in a number of the deaths.

Mental health risks

They can seriously affect your judgment and when you’re high there’s a real danger you’ll try something dangerous.

What is glues, gases and aerosols cut with?

Because glues, gases and aerosols are easily available as household products, purity is not normally an issue.

However, different glues, gases and aerosols will contain different ingredients and chemicals, some of which may also be harmful.

Dangers of mixing it with other drugs

Gases, glues and aerosols produce a similar effect to alcohol, so mixing them together can have serious consequences. The effects are increased and can lead to unconsciousness and death.

Addition

Inhaling glues, gases and spray could be very addictive.

Tolerance can build up within a few weeks in regular users, so you might need to use more to achieve the same effects. This reverts back to normal within a few days of stopping.

It may be possible to become psychologically dependent on volatile substances, meaning the users develop an increased desire to keep using despite any harms they experience, but the evidence on this is limited.

Withdrawal symptoms have been reported in regular users. When they stop their use they experience irritability and headaches.

Source: Alika Gabriel | [email protected]