Substance Abuse: Medical and Slang Terminology

Humera Hamid, BA; Rif S. El-Mallakh, MD; Keith Vandeveir, CADC


South Med J. 2005;98(3):350-362. 

In This Article


Slang terms

Solvents, aerosols, nitrites (poppers), nitrous oxide, glue, transmission fluid, typewriter correction fluid, sniff

Active ingredient

Organic solvents



Pharmacological classification

Sedative/hypnotic, anesthetic

Medical use

Few used for anesthetic purposes

Abuse form

Various (primarily hydrocarbon solvents as liquid or gas)

Usage method

Inhaled as gas or vapor; sniffed; taken po; injected into bloodstream


Anti-freeze, gasoline, de-greaser; windshield washers, foam dispensers, acetone; cleaning-fluid, spot remover, nail polish remover, shoe polish; gasoline, household cements, lacquer thinners, lighter fluid, model cements; airplane glue, plastic cements, rubber tire patching cement; paint and varnish removers, paint brush cleaners, household waxes; typewriter correcting fluids and thinners, general household clean-ers; floor wax removers, suede cleaners, liquid incense, room deodorizer

Effects sought


Adverse effects

Impaired perception, coordination, judgment; toxicity from solvent impurities; dementia

Detectable in urine

Specialized testing required


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