Psychiatric and neurological effects of chronic solvent abuse

Can J Psychiatry. 1991 Dec;36(10):735-8. doi: 10.1177/070674379103601008.


This study is a review of the psychiatric and neurological effects of solvent inhalation on a group of 22 patients with chronic histories of solvent abuse, primarily toluene-based solvents. The findings suggest that the chronic inhalation of toluene-based adhesives can produce a paranoid psychosis which may persist. Other findings were a high incidence of temporal lobe epilepsy and decrease in IQ. We suggest that the psychiatric and neurological sequelae of chronic solvent abuse are serious and potentially irreversible. Toluene is felt to be a major factor in the morbidity associated with chronic solvent abuse, and attention is drawn to the necessity for educational programs in this area. The burden caused by the resulting psychiatric problems resulting from solvent abuse may have implications for health care budgets.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Psychoses, Substance-Induced / diagnosis
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Solvents* / adverse effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Toluene* / adverse effects


  • Solvents
  • Toluene