Petrol Sniffing, the Brain, and Aboriginal Culture: Between Sorcery and Neuroscience

Sheree Cairney, Paul Maruff

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Petrol (gasoline) fumes can be inhaled directly from a bag, a saturated rag, or a small container either through the nose or the mouth. Following inhalation, the toxic chemicals in petrol enter the bloodstream through the lungs and produce pleasurable effects by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). Petrol sniffing occurs most frequently among indigenous adolescents who are from low-income, isolated communities, probably because petrol is cheap and readily available, and there is restricted access to the other drugs of abuse that are favored by equivalent groups in the wider community. Aboriginal people from many of these communities continue to maintain a strong alignment with traditional beliefs, customs, and law. Humans have used mind-altering substances within medical, religious, and cultural contexts since ancient times. When a drug has been used for thousands of years, ceremonial behaviors and taboos generally evolve to govern its use.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationConsciousness and Cognition
    Subtitle of host publicationFragments of Mind and Brain
    EditorsH Cohen, B Stemmer
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9780123737342
    ISBN (Print)123737346
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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