Friday, September 13, 2013

New service supports those addicted to gas, aerosol and solvent legal highs

Specialist agencies, Re-Solv and Solve It, have partnered to launch Community for Recovery (, a national support service for those affected by volatile substance abuse (‘VSA’), the misuse of gases, aerosols and solvents.

It’s probably the most hidden form of drug abuse in the UK, but ‘volatile solvent abuse’ (‘VSA’ for short) is killing more people a year than any of the new psychoactive substances known as ‘legal highs’.

VSA is the inhalation of gases, aerosols and solvents – often from everyday products found in all our homes. Over 50,000 people in the UK misuse volatile substances but, until now, there has been little or no support available for them, or for their families. Often inhaling up to 10 or more gas cans a day, those chronically addicted need the same level of support that illicit drug-users receive – not least because VSA can kill instantly. On average, 54 people in the UK die each year from misusing butane gas or other volatile substances such as nitrous oxide (‘laughing gas’).

Despite being the original ‘legal high’, VSA is rarely talked about. As a result, those affected by VSA often feel helpless and alone. Community for Recovery is about overcoming this isolation and providing professional and peer support into recovery. is a web-hub that provides direct access to professional advice, online counselling and peer support, without stigma, for VS-users and their families and friends. Through web content, instant messaging, email and discussion forums, visitors can access information, support and referral into local treatment and recovery services.

In order to ensure that local substance misuse providers have the skills and confidence to support someone misusing volatile substances, Community for Recovery is also funded to deliver free professional VSA training to support and treatment services anywhere in England.

Community for Recovery is funded by a major grant from the Department of Health Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development (IESD) Fund and is a partnership project between Re-Solv and Solve It, two UK charities that work to prevent volatile substance abuse and support those whose lives are affected by it.


For more information please contact Re-Solv’s Director, Stephen Ream, on 01785 817885 or visit

Notes to editors

Re-Solv (, @resolvUK) is the national agency working to prevent volatile substance abuse (‘VSA’) in the UK and Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on VSA.

Solve It (, @SolveItVSA) provides a unique holistic and specialist service tackling all issues in relation to VSA and is the only UK agency to provide VSA online counselling.

Volatile substance abuse (‘VSA’) is the misuse of consumer products found in all our homes and high streets. A range of chemicals are described as ‘volatile substances’ because they readily evaporate at room temperature, giving off a ‘sniffable’ vapour. Volatile substance abuse or ‘VSA’ is when these substances are deliberately inhaled through the mouth and/or nose to achieve a change in mental state or ‘high’. The most commonly misused products are butane gas from cigarette lighter refills, aerosols (such as deodorants and hair sprays), petrol and some glues. When inhaled deliberately, volatile substances can kill suddenly and unpredictably; there is no way to avoid this risk.

Nitrous oxide (‘hippy crack’ or ‘laughing gas’), another volatile substance, is now the second most popular drug among 16-24 year olds in England.