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Stop sniffing glue

Sikeli Qounadovu
Monday, July 04, 2016

A 13-year-old student is the latest to have been treated at Fiji's mental institution, the St Giles Psychiatric Hospital, for volatile substance abuse — glue.

Reliable sources say the student was caught overdosed on glue and taken in for suspected mental problems.

Sources in the Ministry of Health have confirmed that within the past few weeks there has been a rise in students entering the institution for what is believed to be the early stages of mental disorder resulting from the abuse of volatile substances, especially glue.

The students are now being strictly monitored and the Ministry of Health says volatile substances abuse is a health concern. Of the five latest cases involving students, three are from the same school.

If one thing is for certain, glue sniffing is now a reality and everyone plays an important role raising awareness on an issue that has been plaguing our young children for some time.

Sources within the Ministry of Education revealed the abuse of volatile substances, especially glue, is serious concern.

For those who continue to abuse these substances, let us put this as simple as possible: "Stop or it will stop you".

These substance have been sniffed, snorted and to the extent of being eaten to satisfy the hunger for a "high". Its demand is so high that in one prominent secondary school a box containing empty cans of glue was found in one of the hostels. After a thorough investigation, the student concerned revealed that he had been selling the cans in school, which had been provided by an older member of society.

What most users do not understand is that these volatile substances when abused can slow down or speed it up their systems while at the same time hallucinating.

Components of these substances include toxic gases or chemicals that can displace oxygen in a matter of seconds.

In the operation of the body, oxygen is required to help with blood circulation. Its absence will set alarm bells ringing, something is wrong, something needs to be done.

Of the 1796 school offences reported from 400 schools last year, there were 20 inhalant cases — in one case there is a possibility of three or five students involved.

Volatile substance abuse

"The use of volatile substances as drugs involves breathing in gases or vapours from household and industrial products such as aerosols and lighter refills. These substances are volatile, meaning that they evaporate and can be inhaled without burning or heating them up." (www.drugscience.org.uk)

Volatile substances poisoning:

Clinical and

circumstantial evidence

Many of the problems associated with volatile substance abuse may appear similar to the normal problems of adolescence.

However, such abuse should be suspected in children and adolescents that display "drunken" behaviour, unexplained listlessness, anorexia and moodiness.

Their hair, breath and clothing may smell of solvent and empty adhesive tubes or other containers, potato crisp bags, cigarette lighter refills, or aerosol spray cans are often found on or near them.

The smell of solvent on the breath is related to the dose and duration of exposure and may persist for many hours. The so-called "glue-sniffer's rash" (perioral eczema) is caused by repeated contact with glue poured into a plastic bag.

However, one study found only two of 300 children who regularly "sniffed" glue were found to exhibit this feature (Sourindhrin and Baird, 1984).

It is important to consider all circumstantial evidence in cases that are possibly related to volatile substance abuse since suicide or even homicide cannot be excluded simply on the basis of the toxicological examination. (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Volatile Substance Abuse Report.)

Volatile substance abuse law

In 2013, the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council together with the Ministry of Health, Fiji Police Force, Solicitor General's office and other organisation drafted the Volatile Substance Abuse Decree.

A nationwide public consultation was conducted in 2014 before being submitted to the Solicitor General's office for vetting.

Last year, Government announced draft legislation would be up for deliberation in this years parliamentary sitting — of which one is the draft volatile substance abuse legislation.

One thing for certain, there needs to be certain policies in place to least control the sale of these volatile substances.

These volatile substances include glue, nail polish, thinner, paint, aerosol cans, weedicides etc.

As it is, volatile substances are the most easiest, fastest and most accessible way to get a high.

Let's work with Government to address this serious matter for our sake and for the sake of our future generations.








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