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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2010 Jul;29(4):452-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2009.00162.x.

The dark side of sniffing: paint colour affects intoxication experiences among adolescent inhalant users.

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  • 1Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.



Inhalant abuse among adolescents is a significant health concern in many countries; however, limited research has explored whether the intoxication experience differs between commonly used inhalants. The aim of the present study was to examine how exposure to different types of paints (chrome vs. non-chrome) were experienced by adolescent users.


Sixteen adolescent (aged 15-19 years) regular inhalant users completed a semistructured questionnaire enquiring about their inhalant use. Participants were divided into two groups based on paint colour preference [chrome paints (n = 10) and non-chrome paints (n = 6)] and were compared using appropriate statistical tests.


Relative to non-chrome users, the chrome-using group were more likely to report deliberately inhaling to experience altered perceptions (such as visual and auditory hallucinations). In addition, a significantly greater proportion of chrome users reported that the perceptual alterations they experienced after sniffing paint differed between paint colours, with chrome colours being associated with more vivid hallucinations.


While both chrome and non-chrome users reported a comparable level of pleasure from paint sniffing, chrome paint users were more likely to be motivated by the potential to hallucinate. Our findings suggest that the type of inhalant used is an important consideration that may have relevance to clinical treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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