Solvents

Solvents are chemical compounds, such as benzene and toluene, typically used to dissolve oils or resins. Although a small proportion of young people voluntarily abuse or inhale these substances (e.g., sniffing glue or gasoline), many more individuals are exposed to them as workers in an industrial setting. These chemicals are unique in their ability to cause damage to the CNS after fairly limited exposure. Clinical observation of acute effects of these drugs shows that users experience euphoria, dizziness, and "drunkenness," which are usually accompanied by fatigue, muscle weakness, and impairments in concentration, memory, and reasoning. This can progress through loss of self-control, disorientation, and coma. Chronic neuropsychological impairments are seen in a variety of domains, including motor coordination, memory, and attention, and can resemble the symptoms of dementia. Neurological impairments include diminished sensitivity to pain and touch, shrinkage of the cortex, and lesions in the cerebellum. Although there is not yet sufficient evidence to be conclusive, it is likely that much of the damage and disruption to function are permanent.

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