- toluene-induced hallucination
- Toluene is also known as methylbenzene and phenylmethane. The name toluene refers to tolu balsam, an aromatic extract from the tropical tree Myroxylon balsamum. The name tolu balsam, in turn, is named after Santiago de Tolü, a town in Colombia. The introduction of the name toluene is attributed to the Swedish father of modern chemistry Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1779-1848). It is used to denote an aromatic hydrocarbon that is widely used as a solvent in glue and other industrial products. It is also widely used as an inhalant drug for its hallucinogenic and other psychoactive properties, especially by schoolchildren, adolescents, and other individuals who cannot afford other drugs. Toluene is administered either through vapour inhalation (called sniffing, glue sniffing, or snorting) or by soaking a rag in a toluene-based substance such as glue and stuffing it in the oral cavity (huffing). The method where a plastic bag or bottle is used for the inhalation of toluene is called bagging. Once inhaled, 95% of the toluene is oxidized to become benzyl alcohol. The remaining 5% is oxidized to benzaldehyde and cresols. The mechanism involved in the mediation oftoluene-induced hallucinations is basically unknown. After a state ofintoxication is reached, toluene-induced "sensory deceptions and distortions tend to linger on for about 30 min. The types of " perceptual disturbances evoked by toluene inhalation include "metamorphopsias (such as "micropsia and "macropsia), "body schema illusions (such as " whole body macrosomatognosia and "whole body microsomatognosia), " illusions, changes in the intensity of colour perception, and "visual, "auditory, "somatic, "tactile, " kinaesthetic, and " compound hallucinations. " Gustatory hallucinations may also occur, albeit less frequently. Other psychoactive effects include euphoria, " ecstasy, anxiety (mostly in response to frightening hallucinations), and "timedistortions. Toluene intoxication may entail mild or severe adverse effects, ranging from headaches to vertigo, " tinnitus, dysarthria, confusion, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, bronchospasm, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, and even death. Deaths associated with toluene intoxication are attributed primarily to fatal accidents and to cardiotoxicity. Fleeting illusions have also been reported as part of a withdrawal syndrome following the prolonged use of toluene. Other substances used as inhalant drugs include aerosols, airplane glue, butane gas, cleaning fluid, gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, rubber cement, and varnish remover.ReferencesEvans, A.C., Raistrick, D. (1987). Phenomenology of intoxication with toluene-based adhe-sives and butane gas. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 769-773.Rudgley, R. (1998). The encyclopaedia of psychoactive substances. London: Little, Brown and Company.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.
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