Inhalants are popular, deadly

May 08, 1997

Inhalants and marijuana are the drugs of choice for young people, according to Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class T.E. McDonough, a drug recognition expert at the Hagerstown barracks.

"Inhalants are relatively inexpensive, and easily accessible," he said.

McDonough said inhalants are divided into two categories:

  • Anesthetics and aerosols, the effects of which don't last long.
  • Volatile solvents such as butane, which stay in the system for six to eight hours.

Inhaling fumes from aerosol sprays and solvents kills brain cells and can be deadly, McDonough said.

Inhalants used by teens include butane in lighters and refill cartridges, hair spray, gasoline, magic markers, airplane glue, paint thinner, kerosene and typewriter correction fluids, officials said.

Cardiologist Dr. Gary Papuchis of Hagerstown said when someone is breathing a substance like butane, for all intents and purposes they really aren't breathing.


"It causes progressive loss of oxygen," he said. "The oxygen level in the body drops. Perhaps when the toxins reach the brain they have a feeling of euphoria, dizziness, the inability to concentrate...if the oxygen level drops enough they lose consciousness and a fatal heart arrhythmia can develop."

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