There is a wide range of everyday products which produce vapours. If inhaled they may cause a person to ‘feel high’. Inhalants or chroming are depressant drugs that slow down the messages between the brain and the body.

Inhalants can be classified into four main groups

  • Volatile substances are liquids or semi-solids, such as glues, degreasers, petrol, dry cleaning fluids, paint thinners, and correction fluid.
  • Aerosols contain propellants and solvents and include spray paint, deodorants, hairspray, insect spray and vegetable oils.
  • Gases can include medical anaesthetics such as nitrous oxide, and gases from products such as refrigerators and fire extinguishers
  • Nitrites, including amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites or poppers.

Other names

Glue, gas, sniff, huff, chroming, poppers

The Effects of Short- & Long-Term Inhalants or Chroming

Low to Moderate Doses

Short- & Long-Term Inhalants/Chroming Effects can include:

  • An initial rush or high
  • Feeling of wellbeing
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Excitement, euphoria, giggling
  • Agitation, unease, aggression
  • Hallucinations, delusions
  • Impaired judgement
  • Drowsiness
  • Runny nose, nosebleeds
  • Blurred vision, Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain

Higher doses

Inhalants/Chroming Effects can include:

  • Disorientation
  • Decreased coordination
  • Visual distortions
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Hallucinations
  • Blackouts, convulsions, coma
  • Sudden sniffing death

Long Term Effects

Most long term effects of using inhalants are not permanent. However, inhaling aerosols, petrol and cleaning materials can cause permanent brain damage.

Using inhalants or Chroming long term can cause:

  • Pale appearance
  • Weight loss, excessive thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Tremors
  • Loss of sense of smell and hearing
  • Forgetfulness, memory impairment
  • Reduced attention and ability to think logically and clearly
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Irritability, hostility, depression
  • Chest pain, Stomach ulcers

Coming down

When the effects wear off you may experience the following symptoms which could last for several days:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Numbness

Legal Issues of Inhalants/Chroming Effects

In some states and territories, it is illegal for shopkeepers to sell certain products if they believe they are to be used for inhaling. Some Australian states and territories have revised certain police powers in recent years so that police are now authorised to:

  • take away inhalants and related equipment
  • detain young people who are found to be using inhalants and place them in the care of a responsible person or safe place.






Adapted from Drug Facts (Inhalants), Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2019.