Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA)
Items include hairspray, deodorant and cigarette lighters.
The average home contains between 30 and 50 products that can be abused. This makes VSA easier for people to access than illegal drugs.
VSA is also more lethal than illegal drug use. It kills more young people between the ages of 10 and 16 than all illegal drug use put together. This amounts to about one person a week.
VSA is a quick and powerful hallucinogenic. It puts young people at risk of toxic death or serious injury. Crimes committed by young people whilst high on these substances include murder, rape, assault, theft and vandalism.
77% of abuse and 55% of deaths occur in the home. Parents should be vigilant over their child’s behaviour and ensure that substances are as difficult to access as possible. In particular, butane lighter refills are linked to 80% of all VSA deaths.
Possible signs of VSA are:
- Drunken behaviour such as poor coordination and coherence
- A chemical smell on clothing, hair or breath
- Dilated (widened) pupils
- Pale skin
- Red, puffy, watery eyes
- Persistent runny nose
- Rashes or spots around the nose and mouth
- Coughing or gagging
- Nausea and vomiting
Examples of dangerous substances:
- Butane-gas cigarette lighter refills
- Liquefied domestic gas
- Solvent-based adhesives
- Aerosol deodorants, hairsprays, air fresheners
- Pain relief sprays
- Some typewriter correction fluids
- Petrol and petrol lighter fuel
- Certain paints, paint thinners and removers
- Dry cleaning agents
- Nail varnish and varnish remover
- Some shoe or metal polishes
- Plaster remover