Solvent Inhalant Abuse Among Street Children in Upper Egypt

Alaaeldin Elkoussi

Elkoussi, Alaaeldin; Abdelneem, M.; Abdelrahman, M.; Bakheet, S Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt; Department of Sociology, College of Arts, Assiut University, Egypt

A large proportion of street children resort to the abuse of cheap substances that are very toxic. Little research has been done to investigate the size, patterns, attitudes, and impacts of substance abuse among street children in Egypt, particularly in the underprivileged southern part of the country.

This study was conducted to investigate the magnitude of substance abuse among these children, track the trends and patterns of their abuse, and identify the chemical and toxicological properties of the cheapest and most commonly abused substance, which is a glue called “Kolla.”

Methods for data collection included self-report surveys, interviews, informant reports, and focus group discussions. Physicochemical properties of Kolla were investigated using gas chromatography mass spectromertry characterization and other methods. Effect of the repeated inhalation of Kolla on the locomotor activity of mice was studied using the rotarod and the activity cage methods. The possible oxidative stress induced by Kolla was evaluated by studying its effect on lipid peroxidase and glutamate brain levels in mice. More than 70 percent of street children consume various cheap substances on a habitual basis. Abused substances include cigarettes, glue (Kolla) and other inhalants, bango (a cheap toxic brand of cannabis), illicit tablets, and combinations of different substances. The most commonly abused substances are the toxic solvents and inhalants present in glue, painting material, and gasoline. Addict street children are prone to numerous social and health risks including violence, stealing, begging, prostitution, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, chest and skin disorders, and nutritional deficiencies.

Chemical analysis revealed that Kolla contains many toxic solvents including toluene (~29%), p-Xylene (~24%), pseudocumene (~13%), cumene (~6%), n-hexane (~5%), octane, pyrrolidine, ethylbenzene, decane, and n-propylbenzene. The Kolla induced a biphasic action on the locomotor activity of mice with an initial decreased activity in the first days followed by a significant increase. Effects on brain lipid oxidase and glutamate levels are currently under investigation.

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Abstract Region: 
North Africa
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Abstract Category: 
Basic Science