Never, Ever Sniff

By Dr. Robert Wallace

January 15, 2021 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'm a teen boy who is too young to legally buy alcohol, but I've heard of a cheap way to get high is by inhaling typewriter correction fluid or even model airplane glue. I'm not sure how safe this might be, but since these products are considered safe enough to be sold in many places, they can't be that bad, can they?

My friends tell me they get an epic high from these substances, so I'm still curious, even though I'm a bit concerned as to the safety aspect, too.

These friends don't seem any different to me over the past few months since they started this sniffing. It's not like any of them have brain damage or anything. Are the potential risks way overstated? — Considering a Smell, via email

CONSIDERING A SMELL: Absolutely, positively do not ever do this, not even one time! The reactions to these substances can vary widely among individuals, and you have no idea how your body will react. Intentionally breathing in these substances could cause your heart to beat rapidly and potentially even irregularly and could cause death. The hydrocarbons in these deadly solvents can infuse easily with an individual's blood and can affect the central nervous system of the user.

A special type of inhalant called nitrites, sometimes called "poppers" or "snappers," provide a different kind of high. They are promoted under the guise of increasing physical pleasure because of how they dilate blood vessels. Like all inhalants, they can cause death or brain damage, even for first-time users.

Remember your body is your temple, and you should always seek to take good care of it and protect it from harm. Sniffing any of these substances is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Wise up, and make a commitment to yourself that you won't even try this once. It's a horrible idea. I further suggest that you do some reading on the internet about the dangers of this behavior and that you share your findings with the boys who are currently engaging in this behavior. You'll be doing them a huge favor. If they continue to sniff, I advise you to get new friends and cut off contact with the sniffers.


DR. WALLACE: Over the holidays, our family had a Christmas celebration dinner about a week before Christmas Day because my aunt and uncle had to be in another state on Christmas Day. Our whole family was there, even my grandparents. My mother told me I could invite one guest, so I invited my best girlfriend to this dinner, even though she doesn't celebrate Christmas because she and her family have a different religious belief.

I was really happy that she said she would like to come to our family house and sit in on our celebration and enjoy the holiday dinner with us. My parents encouraged her to visit us no matter what her beliefs are, and my mom told her she would be most welcome.

Well, my friend did come to our dinner! We girls are both 15, and we got to sit next to each other at the dinner table. We spent the entire evening laughing and telling stories with all of our family, and my friend told me she had a terrific time. She even said she was interested to learn a little bit more about our family's religious beliefs and our values. I can honestly say that my whole family loved having her visit us. She asked us several questions about our religion, and she even encouraged us to ask her questions about her religion, so we had a nice discussion about all of the different religious beliefs that exist in the world, and we agreed they all have a lot more similarities than differences.

I just wanted to send a note to your column so that hopefully some of your readers will remember that kindness and respect are values that transcend all people and religions. People around the world deserve to be happy and to practice their own religious beliefs in peace with everyone else. This past holiday will always be a memorable one to me for that reason! — Peace to All, via email

PEACE TO ALL: Thank you for sharing your uplifting letter. It serves as a wonderful reminder that all human beings are truly part of the same connected family we have here on earth.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: RealAKP at Pixabay

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