Sniffing and Snorting Dangers?

The variety of substances that are abused on a daily basis could surprise many. While drugs – both illegal and prescription – are often abused, as well as alcohol, there are a number of other substances that have made their mark.  The murky world of substance abuse that is no longer restricted to cocaine, marijuana, heroin, Ecstasy and the like. Concern over this disturbing trend is growing as many children are suffering the inevitable health consequences of these habits. The frightening part is that the kids don’t realize that these seemingly innocuous habits damage the health as much as smoking marijuana and doing cocaine

For one Indian boy, that substance is whitener ink. At lunch break every day, the student doesn’t open his tiffin box. Instead, he rushes to the fields behind his school somewhere and vigorously sniffs his handkerchief to get high on the whitener he has poured into it.

The dark truth about whiteners is that this slow poison is a stationery product available ubiquitously for just Rs.27 for 15ml. Shops close to school campuses stock whiteners. There’s no control over the sale of whiteners as it is not a drug under the purview of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Whitener is abused as an inhalant in India. Whitener exerts its effects through trichloroethane, a volatile solvent. Inhalants include other substances such as petrol and toluene. These substances are cheap, accessible and readily available to children and adolescents. 

Inhalants are volatile (easily evaporated at normal temperatures) substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. People from both urban and rural settings abuse inhalants

Young people abuse volatile solvents by deliberately inhaling available vapours 15–20 times over 10-15 minutes.

Inhaled organic solvents like toluene cross from the blood into the brain within minutes. In the brain cells, solvents act on specific receptors to produce effects similar to those of alcohol. Toluene is a common solvent in thinner and paint. Toluene enhances dopamine release.

Multiple Gateways to The Harm-

Inhalants can be breathed in through the nose or the mouth in a variety of ways, such as—

  • “sniffing” or “snorting” fumes from containers;
  • spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth;
  • “bagging” — sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag;
  • “huffing” from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth; and
  • inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide.


The Hazardous and The Hazards –

Common household items that are used as inhalants and are extremely dangerous include:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Canned air
  • Rubber cement
  • Spray paint
  • Paint thinners
  • Felt-tip markers
  • Air fresheners
  • Butane
  • Cooking spray
  • Whipped cream cartridges or cans

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From alcohol, tobacco and marijuana to heroin, cocaine and LSD, the addiction grows on a person in a way that the brain’s chemistry is altered altogether. Addiction, as defined by NIDA, is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. Some people may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.

The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. Consequently, choosing to take drugs no longer remains a voluntary action. With continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.

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Marijuana- The Poison loved by most

“Marijuana is… self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive and in this world what worse punishment could there be?”


Pot, weed, grass, 420, dope, herb, joint, blunt, cannabis, mary jane, bhang and much more are the names given to the infamous natural drug- Marijuana.


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I myself don’t have any idea why I chose this particular topic when there are many more drugs which are way more harmful and have way more case studies about them online. Maybe it’s the fact that according to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva used to consume it or the fact that out of all the drugs only this drug is herbal in nature.


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I honestly have no problem with people who consume it, after all, it does have some medicinal uses. I was not even aware of its existence until I got to read a very interesting news as to how 2 sisters were growing weed in their church’s backyard and using it to make medicines. I was very curious as to what weed is.


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Most kids are when they get to hear about it, especially from their friends who are already using it to “relieve” themselves from the stress in their lives. Let alone friends, but even our culture has made it a part of our religion. Bhaang is consumed the most on holi by mixing it in thandai (a famous Indian drink).


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If that doesn’t make you interested then stars like Bob Marley does. And this by far leads most to start using it just out of sheer curiosity. All the experiences that people have while using this drug differ a lot due to the fact that it amplifies the emotions and the thoughts that you have while using it. Some find it very relaxing while a few also find the experience very scary.

 It also tends to amplify sounds that you hear, no matter how far they may be but you will feel as if the source of the sound is just next to your ear.


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It is the most used drug not only because of all the influences in our society but also due to the fact, it is very easy to get, in fact, just go outside and you can find places nearby you where weed is growing on its own.

It is easy to cultivate and also has a demand in the market, which also makes it very profitable to grow. Go to any hill station, any and you can find a government bhang store.

What about the people who can’t get access to the drug? They find other herbs like the mango leaves or green tea leaves to smoke and you will be very surprised how common it is.

  The problem of drug abuse has always existed but most of them were not used to the point where it becomes an addiction but during the British rule, the problem of addiction truly started to take a shape in our country.

Drugs were the only way to survive in that time of insanity and it was also promoted by the British rulers as they were able to exploit the poor farmers and many other worker class and so they fed them to the point they were not able to retreat.

Now we are left with the side-effect of that exploitation, it is seen as acceptable to use drugs in our society to the point where our elders also tell us to use it if feel sick.

I always thought to myself, is there really any ending to all of this? Maybe, has always been the answer as our society is built in such a way that we all are using drugs, be it by choice or by force. We all are addicts. Living on pills or the “herb” is your choice but being an addict, maybe not.

The only solution is if the world stops seeing profit and rather the health of individuals. We all can help with that by not judging other people for drug abuse and rather help them in realising that it truly is not worth it, it can be a short-term escape from your problems but that’s all. It all ends there. You can’t run from your problems forever and you will eventually need to face it, that even while you are all sober.

Get addicted to life, not drugs.

There will be a second part to this where I will talk in-depth about this drug and will include the interpretation of one of the case study related to this drug to show how harmful it can be.

-Nehal Hardat

Can you feel the despair?

Addiction begins with the hope that something “out there” can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.

—  Jean Kilbourne

This is dedicated to those who have touched the woes of life… To those who fall but stand back up. To those who get weak but find new strength. To those who break but rebuild themselves. To those who lose hope but believe again. This is for those who chance upon the recovery road. There is a life that awaits you. Your story matters. 

poem addiction drugs abuse alcohol substanceabuse

A poem on Addiction

  • Addiction is always knowing where my cigarettes are.
  • Addiction is a clove cigarette and a Pepsi for breakfast.
  • Addiction is showing up for a date high.
  • Addiction is missing my mother’s birthday because I was high.
  • Addiction is taking naps in the car in the company parking lot because I was so tired I couldn’t make it through the afternoon.
  • Addiction is claiming that smoking is a social activity, but smoking alone anyway when all my smoking buddies are busy.
  • Addiction is the tingling on both sides of my tongue, near the back, when I haven’t had a cigarette in 2 hours.
  • Addiction is knowing that it’s 10:15, because my tongue is tingling again.
  • Addiction is having sex high and not telling her.
  • Addiction is cutting a date short so I can go home and get high.
  • Addiction is not feeling myself until the third cup of coffee.
  • Addiction is that involuntary fluttering that my eyelids do after a double espresso.
  • Addiction is spending the afternoon running to the bathroom to piss out all the caffeine I had to drink in the morning to start my day.
  • Addiction is lying about how many drinks I’ve had already.
  • Addiction is drinking so much in the first 30 minutes of the party that I have to go lie down for an hour.
  • Addiction is Rumplemintz, pizza, and throwing up out the window into the courtyard the night before parents’ visiting day.
  • Addiction is giving a dinner party and getting high before the guests come.
  • Addiction is the very concept of an emergency joint.
  • Addiction is cigarette burns in the carpet.
  • Addiction is picking out burnt carpet fibers one by one before my parents come over.
  • Addiction is rearranging the furniture to hide the cigarette burns.
  • Addiction is a shirt, a bedsheet, and the afghan my mother made for me, now all with cigarette burns.
  • Addiction is leaving the party thinking I’m sober enough to drive, backing up the car, and realizing that I’m not.
  • Addiction is sneaking a cigarette before a date.
  • Addiction is knowing that washing my hands with Listerine does a pretty good job of hiding the cigarette smell on my fingers.
  • Addiction is a box in the back of my closet where I hid my cigarettes.
  • Addiction is keeping track of that box when I moved into a new apartment.
  • Addiction is the first cigarette on a Sunday night, after a sober weekend visting my parents.
  • Addiction is the sound of my ceiling fan, always on to help clear the smoke.
  • Addiction is never having quiet, much less peace.
  • Addiction is calling in sick because I was up until 6 AM getting high, sleeping until noon, and waking up and getting high again.
  • Addiction is going to the office at midnight while high and fixing a bug, just to say that I had done it.
  • Addiction is noticing that I use more global variables when I’m high.
  • Addiction is finding comments like /* drunk, fix later */ and /* too high to make this work */.
  • Addiction is getting drunk four times in one weekend.
  • Addiction is passing out on the Sherman Bus on the way home from an away football game.
  • Addiction is the burp in the morning that is one step away from throwing up.
  • Addiction is $500 worth of liquor in one cabinet.
  • Addiction is going to work and reading e-mails from myself from the night before that I don’t remember writing.
  • Addiction is a permanent towel under the door to block the smell of smoke from escaping into the hallway.
  • Addiction is being high when I heard that Princess Diana was in a car crash, and lighting up another joint later when she was confirmed dead.
  • Addiction is coming home at 3 AM from a long evening of movies at a friend’s house and immediately getting high, then waking up at 8:30 AM and going to work.
  • Addiction is the smell of smoke on all my clothes, sheets, towels, and furniture.
  • Addiction is the taste of everything, always the same.
  • Addiction is realizing that all of my friends at work are smokers too.
  • Addiction is smoking for seven years through four girlfriends and never telling any of them.
  • Addiction is realizing that I can never introduce my girlfriend to my friends at work, because they know I smoke and she doesn’t.
  • Addiction is the tiredness I feel after the third joint when I’m coming down but am too exhausted to smoke any more tonight.
  • Addiction is not having any programming projects for six years.
  • Addiction is not reading any books for six years.
  • Addiction is giving up playing a music instrument after playing it for eleven years.
  • Addiction is ordering “Dancing With Cats”. (This is why drugs and one-click shopping do not mix.)
  • Addiction is taking a box that my parents gave me engraved with the words “graduate with honors” and using it to store pot, pipes, papers, cigarettes, rolling tobacco, and ashtrays.
  • Addiction is the little crease I put in the paper before I put the pot and tobacco in to keep it from spilling out and getting long strands of tobacco stuck in my teeth.
  • Addiction is spitting out strands.
  • Addiction is a thousand little skills I wish I didn’t have.
  • Addiction is getting high on my birthday.
  • Addiction is the dog getting diarrhea, not on days that I get high, but on days that I don’t.
  • Addiction is getting caller ID and dividing the world into two groups: people whose phone calls I could answer while high, and those I couldn’t.
  • Addiction is not answering the door on Halloween because I’m high.
  • Addiction is scraping the bowl and smoking the resin.
  • Addiction is moist sticky tar on my fingers.
  • Addiction is having a folder of bookmarks to drink mix web sites.
  • Addiction is moving to the other side of the room to see if I’m higher over there.
  • Addiction is losing track of how many brands of cigarettes I’ve smoked.
  • Addiction is giving a friend a joint for her 30th birthday with an inscription that read, “Take years off your life while you still have them.”
  • Addiction is smoking while sick.
  • Addiction is a persistent cough.
  • Addiction is the taste of phlegm first thing in the morning.
  • Addiction is the dry roughness on the top of my throat that no amount of water can quench.
  • Addiction is the taste of Halls cough drops every day, despite the warning on the bag that said that they should not be taken for more than seven days or for persistent conditions such as smoker’s cough.
  • Addiction is unrolling the butt of a clove into a bowl and smoking it because I’m out of cigarettes.
  • Addiction is going to sleep high.
  • Addiction is being too high to sleep.
  • Addiction is learning to pace myself throughout the night so I could be sober enough to sleep.
  • Addiction is a cold sweat.
  • Addiction is a permanent stain on my pillow where my mouth rests.
  • Addiction is not being able to sleep sober.
  • Addiction is always dreaming of myself smoking.
  • Addiction is waking up feeling like my eyes are sunk into the back of my head.
  • Addiction is really messy shits.
  • Addiction is my heart racing after a fat joint and not knowing if it’s a heart attack.
  • Addiction is demons scratching on the inside of my skull.
  • Addiction is still drinking mixed drinks when everyone else has switched to soda.
  • Addiction is being recognized by all the clerks at the liquor store.
  • Addiction is keeping track of who knows what.
  • Addiction is a lot of lying to a lot of people.
  • Addiction is not being able to account for all my time.
  • Addiction is the constant fear of being discovered.
  • Addiction is sleeping on my own couch for months.
  • Addiction is waking up in the middle of the night to find that I had rearranged the furniture.
  • Addiction is gaining 40 pounds because I just wasn’t paying any attention.
  • Addiction is getting drunk on the weekends with my girlfriend because we couldn’t think of anything else to do.
  • Addiction is waiting for the knock on the door that never comes.
  • Addiction is the flashing of police sirens outside, and wondering if they’re coming for me, but they never do.
  • Addiction is wondering when someone will please notice that I’m a fuckup and come take away my apartment, my dog, my high-paying job, my charmed life, but no one ever does.
  • Addiction is smoking a joint and hearing a knock on the door, freaking out, looking through the peephole, seeing that it’s only my best friend, and then not letting him in until I smoke a cigarette to cover up some of the smell.
  • Addiction is knowing how to refill a Zippo lighter.
  • Addiction is the nod that means we’re all going to the back room to get high.
  • Addiction is an ashtray in every room.
  • Addiction is hiding the ashtrays before taking pictures of my new apartment to send to my parents.
  • Addiction is hiding the ashtrays before going out, on the off chance that we’ll end up at my place tonight.
  • Addiction is not being able to let my girlfriend into my apartment after she drove me home from a car accident because my ashtray was on my desk in plain sight.
  • Addiction is thinking about all the things I could do, but never getting anything done.
  • Addiction is thinking every year that this year will be different, then finding out it’s exactly the same.
  • Addiction is figuring that I’ll quit “someday”.
  • Addiction is trying to quit, and lasting eight hours.
  • Addiction is feeling like this is the only way life could ever be.
  • Addiction is always near.
  • Addiction is like this.
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  • Addiction is like that: the same thing repeated over and over until it drowns out everything else.
    — Mark Pilgrim

Millions of people in India legally use drugs responsibly every year, but many others use legal drugs illegally or use illegal drugs for recreation. A solid substance abuse definition is using legal drugs illegally for recreation and/or using illegal drugs at all. There are some general signs and symptoms that can be red flags of substance abuse; several treatment options for substance abuse also exist.

Abuse vs. Addiction

In some cases, substance abusers can abuse drugs according to the substance abuse definition without actually becoming addicted to them. For example, a person can drink more alcohol than he should, yet not become addicted to alcohol — at least not that time. The person might become addicted to alcohol after abusing it multiple times, but abuse doesn’t necessarily mean or lead to addiction. Even if a person never becomes addicted to a particular drug, the individual will still likely experience negative effects from the drug on the body.

Abuse vs. Misuse

Some people take drugs non-medically for pleasure but don’t exceed the prescribed dosage; this is referred to as misuse rather than abuse. Drug misuse is fairly frequent and generally not as harmful as drug abuse. For example, a person could take cough syrup with codeine in it as a sleep aid rather than to help suppress a cough. This isn’t likely going to negatively impact the person too much — especially if this is a one-time instance of insomnia rather than a pattern — but harm can arise from misuse when it turns into abuse due to needing more of a drug to achieve a satisfactory result. If a person continues misusing the cough syrup with codeine, for example, he could end up addicted to it due to continually taking more of it to sleep — and eventually because the body demands it.

Healing from addiction takes time. Making up your mind to stop using drugs is a big step. Being addicted makes you afraid of what will happen if you don’t keep taking the drug. I know it might be challenging but it is going to be worth it and your future self will thank you for the recovery.


The following blog-posts will explore various types of substance abuse, signs, symptoms, treatments and other useful information. So, do not forget to follow.

What is your story of substance abuse? 


Substance Abuse Disorder 

 Drugs are here to stay; you need to choose your way

Drugs are fascinating because they change our awareness. The basic reason people take drugs is to vary their conscious experience. Of course there are many ways to alter consciousness, such as listening to music, dancing, exercising, day dreaming … and participating in religious rituals. The list is probably endless, and suggests that changing consciousness is something people like to do

               (Weil and Rosen in Saunders and O’Connor 1994:8)

Substance use disorder (SUD), also known as drug use disorder, is a condition in which the use of one or more substances leads to a clinically significant impair mentor distress (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Being a complex brain disease, it includes alcoholism and drug addiction, along with dependence and intense as well as uncontrollable cravings which leads to compulsive behavior to obtain the substance.

Commonly used term, addiction, is a condition in which the body must have a drug to avoid physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. The first stage is dependence. It is termed as a disease by several medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Like diabetes, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors

These substances are drugs which are chemicals, natural or synthetic, that change a person’s mental state and used repeatedly for the effect. Legally or illegally obtained, these psychoactive drugs that changes brain functioning resulting into alteration of consciousness include:

  • Depressants – They slow down the nervous system. For e.g.-alcohol, tranquilizers, heroin, and other opiates, cannabis (marijuana in small doses).
  • Stimulants – They excite the nervous system. For e.g.-nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine.
  • Hallucinogens – They distort how things are perceived. For e.g.- LSD, mescaline, ‘magic mushroom’, cannabis (high doses).

The effects of drugs depend on drugs, person and environment. (Photo by  Imagens Evangelics)

A person does not choose to indulge, rather has certain reasons to not stop using drugs; these can include pleasure, company, liking, relief, loneliness, coping mechanism, dependency, ill after-effects, courage booster. People can feel caught between what their parents and elders say is important and the pressures and promises that western culture seems to offer. Community stress, boredom, frustration and peer pressure can draw people into drug using lifestyles.

The effects of any drugs depend on drugs, person and environment. A person does not choose to indulge, rather has certain reasons to not stop using drugs; these can include pleasure, company, liking, relief, loneliness, coping mechanism, dependency, ill after-effects, courage booster. People can feel caught between what their parents and elders say is important and the pressures and promises that western culture seems to offer. Community stress, boredom, frustration and peer pressure can draw people into drug using lifestyles.

The following diagram shows the three major influences on an individual’s decisions about drug use. Addressing drug-related harm needs to consider the links between these different factors.

When you watch, you follow, you know? When somebody do things, see them and you follow their example. They drink, well, you drink too! You get in there with them, they share you ‘hey, come on, come on here, drink here!’ And you drink. That’s it. The grog gets hold of you.   (Brady 1993:405)

There are many signs, both physical and behavioral, that indicate drug use. Each drug has its own unique manifestations, but there are some general indications that a person is using drugs:

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Mood swings; irritable and grumpy and then suddenly happy and bright
  • Withdrawal from family members
  • Careless about personal grooming
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sports and other favorite activities
  • Changed sleeping pattern; up at night and sleeping during the day
  • Red or glassy eyes
  • Sniffing or runny nose

In this blog, we will be talking about this topic as well as many case studies in detail. Don’t forget to read, share and care. 

~Aastha Sethi

Reference: Wikipedia and