Getting high on lighter gas: a dangerous new fashion

Relatively frequent risky behavior on the part of the youngest has always been a characteristic of this age group. Adolescents and young adults, in general, show a greater tendency to underestimate the danger of the consequences of their actions, although this does not mean that in the family context a very protective attitude must be adopted in all cases.

However, if we add to this that the rapid technological advances produced in the last two centuries expose adolescents to new risks for which there are as yet no prevention strategies on the part of society, this becomes a particularly important problem.

In this direction, We are now witnessing more and more frequently the emergence of new patterns of drug consumption for recreational purposes conducted by both adolescents and young people in general; they are forms of substance abuse so “out of the system” that sometimes they are not even perceived as drug use by those who use them. We are talking about practices such as getting high with the gas of objects such as lighters or cream sprays, elements that are also common in every household and therefore very easy to access. In this article, we will talk about this new phenomenon.

    What is lighter gas inhalation?

    Times are changing, and with them, the ways in which young people must work around the restrictions created to reduce exposure to addictions are also changing. As time goes, new ideas are emerging that allow them to find themselves in a dynamic of drug addiction without having to commit very clear illegalitiesassociated with the sale of psychoactive substances such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA…

    One of these new trends in substance use is inhaling the gas from lighters, a form of consumption that is gradually spreading in our country and neighboring countries and seriously affecting the health of young people.

    Indeed, the inhalation of gas from lighters has given us terrible news in recent months about the sudden death of boys and girls who consume the gas extracted from lighters to “get high” while partying, without even having to look for suppliers of illegal substances.

    This gas is called “isobutane” or “blue gas” because of its characteristic color and around the world it is used as a recreational drug along with others grouped into the category of inhalants, volatile substances which when inhaled, cause psychoactive effects in the person. which consumes them entering through the air.

    The isobutane gas that some young people inhale on their party nights doesn’t just come from lighters; refills for lighters with a capacity of approximately 300 ml are also sold individually in tobacconists or other specialized stores, and are accessible to people of all ages who must present an identity document.

    The fact that this type of object can also be sold to minors makes it so a public health problem which also affects young adolescents and pre-adolescents for whom the effect of consumption is even more dangerous for their health.

    To these new uses and abuses of drugs must be added the viral challenges of the Internet which can be linked to the consumption of drugs; social networks generally do not have the ability to detect these posts in time before deleting them before they have been seen by thousands of people.

      Effects of inhaling this gas

      As indicated, the main objective sought by people who inhale gas from lighters is to “get laid”since the majority of this type of inhalant generates in the consumer an effect of euphoria, disinhibition, alteration of perception and distortion of reality.

      According to the latest survey of drug use in secondary education in Spain in 2021, 1.8% of Spanish high school students aged 14 to 18 said they had used this type of substance at some point in their life; and the average age of initiation to consumption is 15 years.

      This means that it is a practice frequently initiated by younger and younger people.whose negative effects on the health of the consumer can be serious and variable according to the characteristics of each one.

        Risk for the health

        The main effects and risks of consuming isobutane gas obtained through a lighter can range from intense fatigue, nausea or vomiting and hallucinations, to temporary loss of vision and behavioral disturbances.

        In more severe cases, the main effect on the body is hypoxia or the loss of oxygen in the blood and in the main organs of the body, which sometimes can precipitate cardiac arrest and, consequently, the death of the person.

        The use of inhalants is varied and diverse, as has been said, and there are many new products that young people are finding in everyday life to achieve altered states of consciousness for playful purposes.

          Diversification of drug use

          This can be seen as an evolution of other similar practices based on the abuse of volatile drugs that became popular decades ago, especially among working-class adolescents or even in situations of total marginality: inhalation of sticky gas , nitrites, hydrocarbons or varnish. . Any substance that can produce chemical vapors that have psychoactive effects and do not produce immediate death is likely to lead to drug use.

          In addition to inhaling gas from lighters, in recent years the use of other easily obtainable items has also become popular, such as, for example, inhaling gases present in spray creamswhich have a product similar to isobutane gas.

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