Glue addiction on the rise
JEDDAH: Solvent abuse is a growing trend among secondary school students in the Kingdom with many abusers progressing to harder forms of substance abuse such as cannabis, hashish, opium and heroin.
Solvent abuse is gaining momentum in view of how cheap it is and its widespread and easy availability. Solvent abusers inhale vapor or aerosol propellant gases using plastic bags held over the mouth or by breathing from a solvent-soaked rag. The effects range from an alcohol-like intoxication and intense euphoria to vivid hallucinations.
Solvent abuse is dangerous and users have in some cases died from a lack of oxygen, pneumonia, cardiac failure or arrest, or aspiration of vomit.
Ahmad, a teenager from Jeddah, said he began abusing solvents and then moved on to hard drugs. “Solvents were a stepping stone for me to enter the world of drug abuse. I started sniffing glue when I was an intermediate student,” he said.
“I found one of my classmates sniffing glue. He told me how it felt and I also tried. I then began sniffing glue with my friends. We’d go and sniff at an isolated area behind our school,” he added.
Secondary school student Ali also said solvent abuse led him to use hard drugs and eventually become addicted to hashish and other types of drugs.
Ali, who is currently undergoing drug rehabilitation, said he accidentally fell victim to solvent abuse one Ramadan. “I was traveling with my father when we stopped at a petrol station to fill gas. It was then that the smell of gasoline made me high. After iftar, I headed off to a nearby petrol station to sniff more gas,” he added.
Khaled, another teenager, said he began abusing solvents after feeling high while watching his brother, a calligrapher, work with paint and other solvent-based inks.
“I was sitting with my brother when I began hallucinating. This was caused by all the different types of solvent-based inks and paints he had in his workshop,” he said.
“I then began sniffing cosmetics and nail polish remover with a friend who used to steal them from his sisters. I would also buy these items and no one from my family knew what I was up to,” he added.
Abdullah Baqadeem, a salesman at a shop that sells glue and other household goods, said teenagers often come to buy solvents. “Many teenagers come to buy glue, air-fresheners and other types of aerosols. We can’t always detect whether they are solvent-abusers. If we have an inkling they are, we won’t serve them,” he added.
According to a recent study, nearly 30 percent of people at drug rehabilitation centers are there to get help from solvent-abuse.
Dr. Fatima Al-Haider, a consultant psychiatrist and associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, said many teenage drug addicts start off with smoking cigarettes and sniffing glue.
“Smoking is the one major factor that subsequently leads teenagers into a life of drug addiction. On the other hand, the most serious problem among young students is solvent abuse in the form of sniffing glue and gasoline,” she said.
Sociologist Sheikh Muhammad Al-Nujaimi said parents are to blame for allowing their children to abuse solvents.
“Most parents do not have a proper understanding of religious principles and are unable to educate their children to lead religious lives and ensure they do not stray,” he said.
“Only about 21 percent of fathers and 24 percent of mothers are keen to impart proper religious education and guidance to their children,” he said, quoting some studies.
On his part, Khaled Al-Solaimi, student supervisor at an intermediate school, said sniffing glue and other types of solvent abuse is increasing at an alarming rate.
“Students misuse gasoline derivatives that are widely available. I know several students who have developed symptoms of addiction. Some students suffer continuous headaches while others have epileptic fits. Many of these students also have a tendency to come late to school,” he added.
By MUHAMMAD AL-SULAMI | ARAB NEWS
Published: May 4, 2010 00:03 Updated: May 4, 2010 00:03
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