Chroming, also known as sniffing, huffing, or rexing is the act of inhaling volatile materials, such as solvents and household chemicals to experience a high.
The etiology of the word ‘chroming’ came from the abuse of chrome-based paints, but this form of abuse has evolved to include other substances such as glue, petrol, and solvents. There are various delivery methods to get the chemicals into the system:
While chroming and sniffing of petrol occurs across all age groups, it is the most common among young people and adolescents. Much of the substances which are abused as inhalants are available as popular household products over-the-counter.
Chroming And The Youth
The most affected population is the youth. According to the Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug Survey, one in six students aged 12 to 17 years old reported having used inhalants at least once and 12.6% of them reported use in the past year.
Professor Wayne Hall from the University of Queensland's Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research had this to say about the ongoing epidemic of inhalant use in teens, "A lot of young people who get involved in volatile substance abuse, particularly heavy use that goes beyond experimentation are at high risk of neurological complications “. He also added that "often the young people who are using these products end up using a lot of other things as well so it adds to a pretty nasty cocktail.”
Chroming And Its Effects
The compounds in the volatile materials primarily produce a depressant effect on the central nervous system (CNS). Depressants do not necessarily make the individual feel depressed. It just slows the conduction of impulses between the brain and the body system, leading to feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Once inhaled, the noxious chemicals enter the bloodstream via an exchange of gases in the lungs and then the circulation eventually carries it to the brain where it can cause mild to severe, irreversible damage to the brain cells.
The psychological manifestations of inhalant abuse are as follows:
Chroming can also physically affect the abuser:
There are long-term effects of chroming and experts say that this form of abuse dissolves the brain like melting plastic. The toxic chemicals in the volatile substances result in oxygen deprivation to the brain leading to irreversible cell death. The damage to the neurons will lead to cognitive problems such as alterations in the thinking patterns, memory impairment, mood disorders, psychotic episodes, seizures, and can even lead to coma and eventually death.
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