• Vol. 48 No. 2, 67–68
  • 15 February 2019

“High” on Muscle Spray – Ethyl Chloride Abuse


Volatile substance abuse (VSA) is intentional inhalation of volatile substances for psychoactive effects. As volatile substances have lawful commercial, household and medical uses, it is easily accessible. VSA is recognised to occur more frequently in marginalised societies, in people with low socioeconomic levels and in males.1 Despite the prevalence of VSA in most countries—especially among young adults and youth—it is often overlooked. In Great Britain, there have been 834 VSA-related deaths since 2001, and 64 recorded in 2016 alone.2 The harms of VSA addiction and adverse effects of ethyl chloride is often underappreciated due to the poor knowledge on VSA and the general perception that VSA is not a “true form” of drug abuse. There is limited medical literature on ethyl chloride abuse, most of them from the 1980s and 1990s. While there are reports on other VSAs, reports on ethyl chloride abuse are few. Ethyl chloride abuse has been reported in the mainstream media in Singapore3 but awareness among the general public and health care professionals remains poor.

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