• Vol. 48 No. 2
  • 15 February 2019

“High” on Muscle Spray – Ethyl Chloride Abuse

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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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