Thursday, December 15, 2005

Winning VSA project

Police from the Raintrees in Cairns, Australia noticed an increase in incidents involving the abuse of volatile substances such as paint aerosol cans. Project KIT-VSM was developed as an initiative to resolve the issues arising from volatile substance misuse. An agreement was reached with retailers to remove items from shelves or ensure that they were stored in a secure area, such as areas under the control of counter staff.

"All of the stores were really helpful and their response to the project was overwhelmingly positive" Senior Constable Musumeci said. " The aim was to give retailers control over their stock and to educate them on the potential signs that a customer could be affected by volatile substances.

It reduced the availability of things like aerosols... The retailers have also had an opportunity to train their staff and put in place their own procedures for selling these products."

The success of the project was recognised with the Queensland Police Service Gold Award for Excellence in Crime Prevention.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Retail News


The Wembley and Kingsbury Times recently reported that a shopkeeper was fined nearly £500 and ordered to pay costs of £927.50 after a child was sold a can of cigarette lighter refill containing butane. Officers from Brent and Harrow Trading standards had used a volunteer for a routine check which showed the sale was complete d without questioning.

In a report from the Ashbuy Times Leicetershire Trading Standards officers werdisappointeded at the results of an test purchasing campaign buying cigarettes alcohol and refills containing butane gas where nine sales being made to youngsters. However neither of the two vendors tested for the sale of butane lighter refills sold to the youngsters.

This month further retail campaigns were reported in Conwy, South Gloucestershire, and the Isle of Man.

Coroner demands officials act on petrol sniffing


ABC News have recently been reporting upon a range of initiatives to address pertol sniffing in the Northern Territories. The following is an extract from one such article.

The Northern Territory coroner has called for governments around Australia to implement the recommendations of several coronial inquests into petrol sniffing deaths.

The coroner has handed down his findings into three petrol sniffing deaths in central Australia last year.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh said he could not disagree with the use of the word pathetic to describe government efforts to deal with petrol sniffing.

Mr Cavanagh called on the Northern Territory and Commonwealth governments to immediately establish treatment and rehabilitation services for petrol sniffers in central Australia.

He said several coronial inquests had made the same recommendation since 1998 but the Territory Government had only recently started to act on the advice. He also recommended the Federal Government subsidise a full roll-out of non-sniffable Opal fuel throughout the central desert region.

Blair McFarland works with petrol sniffers for the Central Australian Youth Link Up Service.
He has welcomed the coroner's recommendations and says governments should not drag their heels implementing them.

"Everybody knows what to do and it's been done occasionally in patches," he said.
"We know what to do and we know what works, so it's just a matter of trying to make sure that the resources are there to keep it happening."

Wellington's coroner is highlighting the importance of drug prevention education in schools.


It follows the deaths of six people between the ages of 15 and 27, who inhaled butane gas or solvents. Coroner Gary Evans has made a raft of recommendations calling on the government to set up a national public education campaign and implement a new drug policy. Welltrust executive officer Pauline Gardiner says at the moment there is too much emphasis on harm minimisation.

She says there is a need to ensure that programmes in schools, if any, are of quality and adequately funded. There are calls for waves of advertising targeting drug and solvent abuse. It follows comments from Wellington's Coroner at the inquest into the deaths of six young people who had inhaled solvents.

Director of the Medical Research Institute Dr Richard Beasley says government departments are not treating the issue seriously enough. He says we need an integrated policy across all departments on policing, education, health, child and family welfare and research. He also wants to see an advertising campaign against drugs, similar to those we have seen targeting tobacco and alcohol.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Statistics from the Northern Ireland Drug Misuse Database: 1


The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety have released a new bulletin summarising information on people presenting to services with problem drug misuse . It is the fourth bulletin reporting on information collected through the Northern Ireland Drug Misuse Database (DMD), which was established in April 2000 and which collects detailed data, including information on drugs misused and injecting behaviour, on those presenting for treatment.

Women (4%) were four times as likely as men (1%) to report the use of solvents.

There were also differences by age: cannabis and solvent use was most common amongst young people aged 15 or less – accounting for 85% and 11% of users in this age group respectively.

There were substantial differences in age of first use for different drugs. The lowest average age of first use was for other hallucinogens (11 years), although it should be noted that this is based on a single user. The next lowest average was solvents (just under 13 years) followed by Cannabis (15 years), ecstasy (17 years) and amphetamines (19 years). The average age of first use of both crack and heroin was 21 years. Cocaine and other stimulants had similar average
ages of first use (both 22 years), whilst other opiates (26), benzodiazepines (27), codeine and paracetamol combinations (29) and methadone (29) tended to be used for the first time at later ages.

Click here to link to the full report.

Kirklees - Resolve Not to Get Involved in Solvent Abuse


Kirklees Police and partner agencies are urging young people not to get involved in solvent abuse.

Officers discovered a ‘den’ in the Dewsbury area recently with numerous empty gas refills, disposable lighters and aerosols littering the floor. There was also some discarded drug paraphernalia.

“We did find a 15 year old boy under the influence of solvents,” said Sgt Darren Brown of Dewsbury Neighbourhood Policing Team. “ He was taken home and was provided with information about how to get help. He was introduced to an organisation called ‘Drug Sense’ who have worked with him successfully to cure his addiction.”

“Retailers who sell things such as lighter fluid to people under the age of 18 are committing an offence,” said Andrew Bibby of West Yorkshire Trading Standards. “All staff should be aware of this - where evidence exists we will prosecute.”

Click here to link to the full artcicle

Who has forgotten about VSA?: An overview of volatile substance abuse.


Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA) gets a fraction of the attention of illegal drugs, yet it results in more deaths of young people aged 10-16 than all illicit drugs. Volatile substances are legally available and easily accessible even to very young children.

Click here to link with the paper. McVey J. Liverpool John Moores University. Centre for Public Health.Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores University, From: Drug Prevention: 3, September, 2005. p.31-33.

North East -Volatile Solvent Abuse Event


An awareness conference held in Bouldon, in the North East was a great success. The event provided a briefing for DAT coordinator's and key staff in the region about the new VSA Framework and included speakers from the Department of Health, St Georges Hospital, Medical School and Re-Solv.

Re-Solv, thanks to funding by Northern Rock Foundation, distributed materials for all the Drug Action Teams in the North East, a region, that has, since 1971 to 2003 there were 135 deaths from volatile substance abuse, many of them youngsters.

According to St GeorgeÂ’s Annual Report, it has been shown that since 1994 an average standardised mortality ratio for the North East is 62% higher than the average for the UK.

Warren Hawksley says:

“As Director of Re-Solv I have hoped for a long time that we could develop our work in the North East. It seems to be the area in the UK most effected by Volatile Substance Abuse and it is thanks to Northern Rock Foundation that this campaign has been launched. I also welcome the active concern shown by the Regional Government of the North East”.

Petrol sniffing research


The following grant has been awarded to Northen Territories researchers in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding schemes. Further information on the successful recipients is available on the NHMRC website.

Dr Sheree Cairney: Repair of brain damage caused by petrol sniffingAmount awarded - $625,000

Dr Sheree Cairney and her team will investigate brain damage associated with sniffing petrol along with the brain's ability to repair itself in those who have stopped sniffing petrol. These assessments will be measured against earlier assessments of the same people taken some eight years ago.This study will provide important knowledge about the process of how petrol sniffing interacts with the brain and behaviour, as well as the long term impact after petrol sniffing has ceased.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Law Against VSA

Malaysia - Law

The Malaysian government is drafting a legislation under which action can be taken on people who sniff glue or other hallucinogens. Internal Security Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusof said that legislation was being drafted following 75 cases of glue sniffing were detected from 2000 to August 2005. Other preventive measures included education and awareness programmes among young people in danger of sniffing. "The education and prevention campaigns are being held regularly as part of the anti-drug campaign in schools and the community," he said.

Drinking,Smoking,Drugs and Sexual Intercourse

Northern Ireland - Research

A recent report published in Research Update analysed the 854 responses of 16 year olds to the 2004 Young and Life Times (YLT) survey. They found that respondents were less likely to receive education about solvents (65%) than illegal drugs (80%), alcohol (75%), smoking (72%)and sexual intercourse (70%).

The survey also found that 6% of young people had used volatile substances. 2% of males had tried sniffing a few or many times, compared to 4% of females. Repeated or regular use of volatile substances was higher in big cities (6%) or small cities and towns (5%) than in the suburbs of big cities (2%) country villages (2%), farms or country homes (0%).

The report concluded that "There are many influences guiding young people in their decisions about smoking, drinking, drug use, solvent abuse and sexual intercourse. Agents of socialisation have the most influence on young people's views but interestingly young people's behaviour also varied depending on where they lived and their interest in school. "

For further information about the survey visit

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

North East VSA event

North East England - Event

Re-Solv has worked with Drug Action Teams and the Government Office North East to deliver a regional event to highlight VSA in the region. VSA death rates in the North East have been the highest in the UK and are 62% higher than the national average. Therefore prevention work here is of particular significance and importance.

The event is being held from 10am -1.30pm on 11th October at the Boldon Quality Hotel and is available to commissioners of and workers from all young people's services within the region.

The event will include a number of speakers delivering local, regional and national perspectives and the key speaker will be John Ramsey of St Georges Hospital Medical School. It has been timed to support the recently launched Government framework for VSA.

Alongside the event the aim is to raise the awareness of professionals, parents and young people through the widespread distributions of appropriate training, educational and awareness materials. The project is assisted by a grant from the Northern Rock Foundation.

For further information please contact Claire Toas ( or tel: 0191 202 3628.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Confronting Forgotten Substances

Scotland - Event

A conference hosted by LOST, The Leigh O'Brien Solvent Trust (Registered Charity No. SCO35174). The conference is on Friday 16th September 2005, 9am until 4pm at the Thompson House, Methil Socks, Methil, Fife.

This event is free of charge, and being located in Fife is likely to be oversubscribed. To secure a place for yourself or someone from your organisation please book via:

Alternatively should you have any queries regarding the event please telphone: 01592 714501

John O’Brien (Chairperson)stated "I hope you are able to attend this year’s event and look forward to meeting you or your representative on the day."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Solvent abuse risks 'being ignored'

Northern Ireland - Media report

Solvent abuse is being overshadowed by the high-profile issues of under-age drinking and illegal drugs, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast has warned.

The SDLP's Pat Convery said he was deeply concerned by new figures revealing that the number of deaths from solvent abuse in Northern Ireland has increased five-fold in just one year.

Earlier this week, the Health Promotion Agency said Volatile Substance Abuse (VSA) deaths here had jumped from one death in 2002 to five in 2003, despite dropping across the UK. Mr Convery said young people falling into harmful behaviour could not be left to their own devices.

"Solvent abuse highlights the whole issue of the vulnerability of young people, because it tends to peak at 13-14 years of age but it often begins at the age of 10 or 11," he said.
"But people working in the area are convinced that it is getting insufficient attention because it is overshadowed by the high-profile issues of under-age drinking and illegal drugs."
A good society has to protect its vulnerable members, Mr Convery warned. "We cannot just leave them to their own devices at any age just because they have fallen into behaviour which harms them.

"We cannot just move problems on or push them back out on to the streets. We must certainly intervene to save the lives of young children."

Source: Belfast Telegraph, 22/07/2005

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Department of Health release a new Framework for VSA

England - Policy

The Department of Health released a new Framework for Volatile Substance Abuse targeted at children and young people on the 20th July. The document called ‘Out of Sight?..................not out of mind’ outlines a number of key recommendations that the government intends to take forward in partnership with key stakeholders at local, regional and national level.

The framework states that its principal aim is to ensure that the number of deaths arising from VSA continues to fall. The framework recognises that VSA is a complex issue but it has focused action on those few areas which the Department believes will have the greatest impact. The principle actions are targeted at work with children and young people and on butane gas lighter refills, the product responsible for most of the VSA deaths.

The framework aims to co-ordinate activity and to develop a consensus on a way forward in reducing the deaths and harm associated with VSA. This will involve all the key stakeholders including all government departments, non-government organisations, voluntary sector, industry, retailers, Trading Standards Departments, children and young people, parents, carers, families, practitioners, policy makers and the wider community working together in partnership.

The stated aims of the VSA Framework are to:
  • Provide effective education on VSA to all children and young people, including the most disadvantaged
  • Povide effective targeted interventions for children and young people abusing or at risk of abusing volatile substances
  • Reduce the availability and accessibility of volatile substances, with a focus on butane gas lighter refills
  • Build the capacity of parents, carers and practitioners to identify and work effectively with children and young people who are abusing or at risk of abusing volatile substances
    Increase the evidence base with regard to what works in reducing deaths and harm from VSA

Click here to link to a full copy of the document or go to

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Latest VSA mortality figures

UK - Research

A report released today by the Division of Community Health Sciences at St George’s, University of London, reveals that in 2003 there were 51 deaths in the UK associated with volatile substance abuse. This is the lowest annual total recorded since 1983. The report “Trends in Death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2003”, which was prepared for the Department of Health, describes trends in death associated with the abuse of gas fuels, aerosols, glues and other solvent based products.

In 2003, butane from all sources, predominantly in the form of cigarette lighter refills accounted for 40 of the 51 deaths. Five of the adult deaths were associated with the anaesthetic agents isoflurane and sevoflurane.

Of the nine volatile substance abuse deaths in under-18 year olds in 2003, six were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation. In 2002, there were 24 deaths in under 18 year olds, of which 15 were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills.

Deaths were generally sudden and in 2003 were three times more common in males than females. For both adults and children volatile substance abuse leading to death usually took place in the home.


Anyone with concerns about volatile substance abuse can contact Re-Solv’s free helpline on 0808 800 2345 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday,
or at the website:

The report is also available on the internet at
(NOTE: Report 18 will be live from 0900 on Wednesday 20 July 2005. Until then Report 17 for the deaths in 2002 is on this site)

Deaths from Volatile Substance Abuse in 2003 fell to 51,

UK - Press Release

Re-Solv welcomes the publication of the encouraging 2003 annual report by the Division of Community Health Sciences at St George’s, University of London.

The considerable fall in deaths from VSA in the year that Re-Solv supplied a copy of the awareness video ‘A Loaded Gun’ and the Teachers Pack to every secondary school in the UK is not a coincidence. St George’s Report actually says: “There has been a continuing progress of health education, along with personal and social education in schools, addressing the issue of VSA”.

Re-Solv believes the prevention measure needs still stating clearly that VSA can kill first time. Any child’s death is one too many as we again see the death of a seven year old. We regret that it seems from our press cuttings that the figures will rise again in 2004.

Re-Solv also welcomes the publication of the Government’s VSA Framework, which has been in preparation for over three years. We welcome the consultation we have had over the three years of production with the Department of Heath civil servants. We welcome the emphasis on priority for:

1. Better education
2. Dealing with VSA effectively locally
3. Minimising the opportunity for abuse
4. Research

Re-Solv is urging the Government to make sufficient funding available because to achieve success the framework outlined today will cost money.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

All Wales Awareness Campaign


The parents of a teenage girl, Danielle Taylor, aged 16, who died after sniffing air freshener for the first time have backed a new campaign on the dangers of solvent abuse.

Schools throughout Wales are receiving posters and leaflets to highlight the fact that sniffing substances kills more young people than all illegal drugs combined.

Her father Bryn said: "No parent should have to go through the loss of a child, especially over something so stupid. It's still not real," said Mr Taylor. "We still expect Danielle to be there."

The four Welsh police forces and the charity Re-Solv (the Society for the Prevention of Solvent and Volatile Substance Abuse) hope to raise awareness among young people of the risks.

Dewi Roberts, a drug reduction officer, said "I was unaware that misusing solvents can kill you on the first occasion and that's a message that a lot of people weren't aware of. It's really important that we tell the community as a whole - young people, parents, schools - of the danger of solvent misuse and that one single experimentation can kill you."

The campaign was launched at the Welsh assembly in Cardiff with the backing of trading standards , who inform retailers about legislation and health risks involved in selling restricted goods to the young.

Welsh Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart said substance abuse in the UK was the highest in the European Union. "This type of substance misuse is a particular problem among younger and more vulnerable children."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Neonatal withdrawal from maternal volatile substance abuse


M Tenenbein, OG Casiro, MM Seshia and VD Debooy Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba.

A study to determine whether neonates born to mothers who are volatile substance abusers are at risk for an abstinence syndrome suggested that there is an identifiable neonatal volatile substance abuse abstinence syndrome. The characteristic chemical odour in the neonate or mother is a marker for its occurrence, and phenobarbital treatment seems to be effective. The Finnegan Scoring System seems to be useful for grading its severity.

Funding to tackle VSA in Australia


The Government has allocated $10 million over five years to tackle volatile substance abuse. Minister for Family and Community Services Marion Scrymgour said a key focus will be petrol sniffing which has become a "scourge of our community ". "It is destroying our children,debilitating Indigenous communities and leading to crime and anti-social behaviour in our towns," she said. A new Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Bill will support the many projects communities have developed to deal with petrol sniffing. It also contains initiatives that support communities and expand current options for dealing with abuse,such as:
  • giving police and communities the power to seize inhalants such as petrol,glue and paint when they are being abused
  • giving police and communities the power to apprehend people under the influence of volatile substances and to take them to a place of safety
  • giving courts the capacity to order compulsory attendance at treatment programs for substance abusers
  • strengthening the law to combat the illegal supply of substances.

Clinical, socio-demographic, neurophysiological and neuropsychiatric evaluation of children with volatile substance addiction.


Uzun N, Kendirli Y.

Uzun N, Kendirli Y, Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical School

In this study, socio-demographic characteristics were questioned in 12 children with a mean age of 15 years and a duration of toluene abuse for a mean of 2.3 years, and the clinical characteristics of central and peripheral nervous system damage caused by volatile substances, particularly by toluene were analysed, and probable neurological disorders were investigated by means of neurophysiological and neuropsychological tests. All tests were compared with a control group.

Fifty-eight percent of the children included in the study had pathological findings in the neurological examination. There was pyramidal involvement in 25% and peripheral nerve involvement in 33.3% of the cases. Evaluation of the cognitive functions revealed 33.3% pathology in the 'Short Test of Mental Status' which assesses functions of orientation, attention, learning, arithmetic calculation, abstraction, information, construction and recall. Sensorial polyneuropathy was found in 33.3% of the cases in nerve conduction studies. Somatosensory-evoked potentials revealed pathology in 16.7% of the cases and brainstem-evoked potentials in 50% of the cases. No pathology was observed in electroencephalography and visual-evoked potentials.

In our study, neurophysiological and neuropsychiatric tests revealed that toluene causes slow progressive, clinical and subclinical central and peripheral nerve damage. In Turkey, because of cheapness, easy availability and legal use of volatile substances, the clinical extent of systemic and neurological toxicity of volatile substance abuse is increasing. Abuse of volatile substances, a currently increasing social issue, may create important physical problems which can be permanent.

Early onset inhalant use and risk for opiate initiation by young adulthood


Carla L. Storr, Ryan Westergaard and James C. Anthony

In this study, we estimate a hypothesized link from early onset inhalant use to later use of opiates by young adulthood, with data from an epidemiological sample of 2311 first graders who entered an urban mid-Atlantic public school system in 1985 or 1986 (49.8% male; 67.1% ethnic minority), and who were studied longitudinally to young adulthood. An estimated 9% had initiated inhalant use before the age of 14 and at follow-up in young adulthood an estimated 3% (n = 66) of the sample had tried opiates at least once. Youth who used inhalants prior to age 14 were twice as likely to initiate opiate use, as compared to those who had never tried (relative risk 2.2; 95% CI = 1.4, 3.3). Statistical adjustment for other covariates attenuated but did not dissolve this relationship. These findings help confirm previously reported evidence that the use of inhalants might be an early marker of vulnerability for future involvement with illegal drugs such as heroin, but an exploratory analysis suggests that there may be no direct inhalants–opiate link once a general early onset susceptibility trait is taken into account.

NIDA reports increase in inhalant prevalence


The results of the 2004 Monitoring the Future Study showed that annual use of inhalants by 8th grade students has increased to 9.6 percent, up from 7.7 percent just two years ago. The survey is conducted annually by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to assess drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students.

The latest information from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which tracks drug-related emergency department admissions, showed an increase of 187 percent of inhalant mentions from 2001 to 2002. The total number of new inhalant users in 2002 was about one million Americans, with 78 percent of them under the age of 18.

Solve-it VSA conference


SOLVE IT's third National conference on VSA ‘Confronting Forgotten Substances' is on 18th . November at the Thistle Hotel, Marble Arch, London.

The event is free to all delegates, and is suited to all those who work or come into contact with children and young people, work in the fields of Education, health, crime and community safety, addictions and mental health.

This year there will be presentations from Dr. John Ramsey of St. Georges' Hospital Medical School on the National VSA trends, Dr. Dan Harris on VSA and the medical profession, Kerry Maddock on VSA outreach work, Sharon Sawyers on the work of Trading Standards and the Wellingborough Prison Community Project on the link between VSA and illegal drug use.
Seminars are planned on VSA and the Industry, VSA education, and VSA and the media.

Places are being allocated on a first come first served basis. For further information contact Steve Lambert at SOLVE IT on 01536 510010 or e mail .

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cigarette lighters


Re-Solv has received increasing numbers of reports about the use of cigarette lighters. The reports frequently mention that the tops of the lighters have been damaged, presumably so that the gas escapes faster.

Each lighter contains perhaps 5ml of butane compared to 200ml in the average gas lighter refill and so it is more likely to be associated with young people experimenting than long term users. Cigarette lighters do not come under the “Cigarette Gas Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999” and so they are probably more available to young people who can purchase them from markets at five for a pound.
The St Georges Mortality figures state that in 2001 there was evidence that three deaths were associated with disposable cigarette lighters containing butane.

Mechanism of death


There is a common misconception that VSA deaths result from the freezing of the airways or of the vagal nerve in the neck. It is now believed that this is an unlikely cause of death.

Our current understanding is that the most probable cause of sudden sniffing deaths is the sensitisation of the heart muscle to adrenalin. When a young person becomes excited or frightened their body releases adrenalin, which causes cardiac arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disturbance, which is fatal unless treated very quickly with a defibrillator.

This information has important implications for people who encounter solvent users to treat the situation as calmly as possible.

Ritalin and volatile substances


The Ohio Early Alert raised a concern about the possible interaction of Ritalin and volatile substances. There were apparently 254,000 prescriptions for it in 2002 in the UK.

“I would be primarily and most concerned about a potential fatal interaction whereas the Ritalin having "sympathomimetic" effect or adrenalin like effect could enhance the possibility of Sudden Sniffing Death in the individual huffing the correction fluid.” There is a risk of sudden death with every episode of inhalant use. It could happen on the first incident, or any one after. Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome occurs when the inhaled substance sensitized the heart muscle to the body’s own “adrenaline” leading to a fatal heart rhythm disturbance, Earl Siegel, Pharm.D.,Co-Director, Drug & Poison Information Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

New US website


The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, a US based charity, with which Re-Solv has close links, has launched its new web site.

Typical packaging of solvent and volatile substance abuse products has been adopted to deliver the ‘no nonsense’ message of the potential deadliness in misusing solvent and volatile substances.

This concept aims to trigger a safety message, particularly to adults storing these products.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Crimes reported in 2005


The following press extracts report upon a small selection of the ASBOs and crimes recorded this year. Re-Solv is currently working with Dr R Flanagan to produce a listing of all crimes reported in the UK press over the last 10 years.

A Middlesborough man was banned from every Asda store for cutting the pipes on fuel pumps and sniffing petrol at its filling stations. He was given a four year ASBO and was also banned from going within 50 feet of any filling station in Cleveland. Police believe he may be responsible for as many as 50 similar incidents in the last two years of sniffing fuel on garage forecourts. When he has cut the pipes some customers have been soaked in petrol. His actions were said by the police to be dangerous and a risk to safety.

A 10-year old boy from Leeds became one of the youngest people in the country to be given an ASBO. He was accused of burglary, glue sniffing, assaulting a seven year old and throwing a scooter at a bus packed with school children. The boy is banned from using public transport, using or threatening violence against a person, committing burglary or carrying or throwing an offensive weapon, from entering areas of the city and ordered to stay away from 17 other young people.

A 40 year old man was banned from the whole of Workington town centre for offences including begging, urinating in public, shouting, swearing, solvent abuse and indecent exposure. His solicitor said that after years of solvent abuse Starkey cannot fully understand the ban. Shortly afterwards he broke the ban to use the needle exchange facilities at Boots.

A court in Greenwich was told that a 37 year old alcoholic drug addict, fatally stabbed 22 year old man twice in the heart after a series of rows about the victims preference for sniffing butane gas.

A 27 year old man was accused of beating a gay man to death and setting fire to his Weymouth flat. The Jury heard that he is suffering from a severe personality disorder following his use of solvents and drugs.

A robber from Bridlington, West Yorkshire, was convicted after he snatched cash and tins of lighter fuel from newsagents, was high on lighter fuel. Masked and carrying a bale hook in his pocket the robber forced the shopkeeper open the till and demanded £20 notes and four cans of lighter fuel.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Re-Solv delivers VSA presentation at International Convention


Re-Solv’s National Youth Liaison Officer, Kay Carter, was chosen to speak at an international conference in Calgary in March 2005.

Kay’s specialism in delivering VSA prevention was selected from a significant amount of applications. Funding was provided by the conference organisers, The Canadian Youth Solvent Addiction Committee. Re-Solv is delighted to have this opportunity to once again highlight the charity’s work in the international field of solvent and volatile substance abuse.

A recent report from The Toronto Research Group on Drug Use (RGDU) highlighted that the potentially fatal practice of VSA was most popular among the youngest students surveyed. The report noted that the elevated levels of inhalant use locally mirrors trends reported in the USA where use is associated with teens being at home alone after school and having very low levels of risk awareness. Interestingly the problem of risk awa- reness regarding VSA has been drawn out of sessions Kay has conducted throughout the UK in recent years.

Kay’s presentation was so successful that Re-Solv has been invited to address future conferences as a keynote contributor.

Re-Solv is pleased that, once again, its presence and expertise in the international field of VSA has been and will continue to be highly regarded.

Solvent Abuse in Europe


ESPAD, The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs has released its report for surveys undertaken in 2003, in which it is revealed that inhalant use is 2% greater in the UK than in other European countries.

The survey reported that 12% of the UK sample had used volatile substances at some point in their life compared with an average of 10% throughout Europe. The report, the third survey to be undertaken, since 1995, has seen contributions rise to 35 countries with participation from over 100,000 students.

The highest prevalence of inhalants is reported in Greenland, where 22% had ever used them. Other countries with high levels of inhalant use include Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Isle of Man, Malta and Slovenia (15-19%).

Very small gender differences are found in relation to the use of inhalants. In a majority of the countries there are no gender differences, but in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Ukraine more boys than girls reported this behaviour.

Girls only reported more use than boys in one country, Ireland.

Bitter taste may deter substance abusers


The following is a summary of a report on ABC News in Australia:

The National Inhalant Abuse Task Force, made up of Federal and State Government representatives, has commissioned CSIRO to undertake research looking at the effects of making products with a bitter taste.

Task force chief Paul McDonald says scientists are experimenting with adding "bittering" chemicals to petrol, glue, paint and lighter fuel.

"Basically these are bittering agents - there's a product, Bittrex, a highly bitter agent which can repel nasal, the need to or the desire to sniff products," he said "With the bittering agent it will repel that and it only takes a small bit to make the product bitter."

Dangerous Highs


Dangerous Highs, a joint report from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and ChildLine, analyses over 350 calls made to ChildLine about VSA. For the callers to Childline volatile substances are not used simply to get high, often there are severe traumas as well as emotional and mental health problems that go unsupported.

Dangerous Highs costs £11.95 and is available from NCB Book Sales on 020 7843 6029 or via

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

NIDA announce inhalant research funding


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently announced new research funding which aims to broaden the understanding of all aspects of inhalant abuse (i.e., from epidemiology, to treatment, to the underlying neurobiological mechanisms).

Prevalence data from both the National Household Survey (NHS) and Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) indicate that inhalant abuse continues to be a major public health concern among grade school children, adolescents and some adults in the USA. The announcement states that while there has been progress in reducing overall drug use among children and adolescents, inhalant use is still very high.

NIDA recognise that there is very little research on all aspects of inhalant abuse and their announcement is designed to encourage broad-based research that has the potential for informing prevention and treatment interventions for inhalant abuse, particularly for children and adolescents.

For more information about this programme click here