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Indian J Med Res. 2014 May;139(5):708-13.

Profile of inhalant users seeking treatment at a de-addiction centre in north India.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India.



Inhalants are substances whose chemical vapors are inhaled to produce euphoric, disinhibiting, and exciting effects. Data on inhalant abuse in India are relatively scarce. We report the demographic and clinical profile of inhalant users among the treatment seekers at a Drug De-addiction and Treatment Centre in north India.


The records of treatment seekers at the Drug De-addiction and Treatment Centre, over 10 years (2002-2011) were scanned to identify 92 cases reporting inhalant use. Of these 92 cases, the complete record files were available for 87 (94.6%) cases. These case files were reviewed and the relevant data were collected and analyzed.


Over the study period of 10 years, the number of cases with inhalant abuse per year rose steadily to peak at 20 cases (4.08% of new cases) in 2006 and then stabilized at 1-3 per cent of new cases annually. Of the 87 cases studied, all were males with a mean age of 18.9±4.12 yr, mean education of 9.8±3.42 yr and mean family income of Rs. 7676±7343.15 (median: Rs. 5000). Majority of subjects were unmarried (89.7%), urban resident (79.3%), and from a nuclear family (78.2%). About half of the subjects were students (50.6%). The most common inhalant used was typewriter correction fluid (73.6%) followed by typewriter diluent fluid (19.5%) and glue (6.9%). The most common reason for initiation was curiosity. The mean age of onset of inhalant use was 16.3±4.22 yr. Most subjects fulfilled the criteria for inhalant dependence (85.1%). Psychiatric co-morbidity and the family history of substance dependence were present in 26.4 and 32.9 per cent subjects, respectively. Majority of the subjects reported drug related problems, occupation and finance being the worst affected. Interpretations & conclusions: Our results showed that the inhalant users were mostly urban youth belonging to middle socio-economic class families. The principal sources of inhalant abuse were the commonly available substances like typewriter correction fluids and majority of the subjects initiated it out of curiosity. Nearly three-fourth of the subjects used some other substance of abuse in addition, tobacco being the most common. In view of associated drug related problems, there is a need for strategies to prevent this emerging health care problem.

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