These refer to household goods and chemicals which can be used as drugs - for example glues, aerosols and lighter fluids. They are easy to get hold of and can pose a real risk of harm, even on first use.
What else are they called?
Rush, air blast, spray, volatile substances, thinners whippets, solvents, petrol, laughing gas,inhalants, glues, gas, aerosols
What do they look like?
Volatile substances cover a huge range of products - many are normal household products - such as, gas lighter refills, aerosols containing hairspray, deodorants and air fresheners, tins or tubes of glue, some paints, thinners and correcting fluids, cleaning fluids, surgical spirit, dry-cleaning fluids, petrol and laughing gas/nitrous oxide
What are their legal status?
Volatile substances aren't illegal, but this doesn’t mean that they are safe to use. It’s illegal in England and Wales for anyone to sell volatile substances to people under-18, if they think they’re likely to be inhaling them.
Under Scottish law you can be prosecuted for 'recklessly' selling substances to any age group if you suspect they're going to inhale them.
It is illegal to sell petrol to anyone under the age of 16 or to supply gas lighter refills to anyone under the age of 18. This applies to the whole of the UK.
How much do they cost?
Varies depending on substance – usually just a few pounds,
What equipment to people use to take them?
Some products are squirted or sprayed directly into the throat, which is extremely dangerous. In other cases people inhale fumes from bags or soaked rags/cloths.
What about dependence/addiction?
They are not physically addictive, but people can become psychologically dependent.
Tolerance can build up within a few weeks in regular users – needing to use more to achieve the same effects. This reverts back to normal within a few days of stopping.