I have heard from many homeless people that they sniff glue just to reduce appetite, as it comes cheap and is more affordable than actual food.

Is this true, and if yes, why? This is totally opposite to the effects of marijuana where people feel hungry.

GLUE SNIFFING : Involves inhaling the fumes from domestic and industrial products (glue etc.).

  • $\begingroup$ I think the reason why they sniff glue is the same as why they sniff petrol; they seek an escape route out of their misery and boredom. Being cheap intoxicants they suffice their demands. It has little, if anything to do with reducing appetite if you ask me. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD yes, agreed ! But I have told by many that it reduces their apetite $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ I have tried that enough number of times to say that it doesn't reduce appetite. It gives hallucinations though. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ I searched for credible material and you seem to be right! $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


Short answer
Various inhalants, most notably organic solvents including those used in paint and glue suppress appetite.

From the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse I learned the following:

Initial effects [of various inhalants] include nausea [...], and a loss of appetite.

And the Humanitarian Irin News reports the following on Nepali street youths:

The adhesive glue contains toluene, [an] intoxicating hydrocarbon [...]. The solvent [...] causes hallucinations as well as dampening hunger pangs [...].

Indeed, acute exposure to organic solvents has been associated with a loss of appetite (Gregerson, 1998), and chronic exposure to toluene in the industrial workforce has also been linked to appetite suppression (Kishi et al., 1993).

- Gregerson, Am J Industr Med (1998); 14(6): 681–701
- Kishi et al., Environmental Res (1993); 62(2): 303–13

  • $\begingroup$ This may not be absolute. For example not everyone would feel nausea (in fact one may have the feeling of being lively) or loss of appetite. Only thing that I can say surely about glue sniffing is that it irritates the mucosa. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG - I added scholarly references including a meta study. The anecdotal material cited supports this view. Your experience against the literature :) $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 5:59
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    $\begingroup$ I can bring all my friends and accomplices in the crime for testimony :P There may be chronic effects but not in the sense that OP is asking. $\endgroup$
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG - I double checked my references and I conclude the effects of sniffing have obscured your memory :) The Gregerson study specifically mentions acute effects on appetite, which is confirmed by OP, the news report and the Drug Abuse website. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ Or perhaps I am quite voracious inherently :D $\endgroup$
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 13:04

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