Background: Abuse of inhalants containing the volatile solvent toluene is a significant public health issue, especially for adolescent and Indigenous communities. We previously demonstrated that inhalant abuse (petrol sniffing) during adolescence results in impairments to height and weight. The aim of this study was to understand whether these impairments resolve or persist into early adulthood, following sustained abstinence.
Methods: Baseline data were collected from 118 Indigenous males; 86 chronically sniffed petrol during adolescence. Following 2 years sustained abstinence, data were again collected from a subset (n = 40) of this population; 30 sniffed petrol during adolescence. This study is a retrospective analysis of data collected after 2 years sustained abstinence.
Results: After 2 years abstinence, inhalant-induced impairments to height persisted (p = 0.023) whereas weight impairments resolved (p = 0.796).
Conclusions: Adolescent inhalant abuse alters growth trajectories, even after 2 years of sustained abstinence. Despite the fact that individuals continue to get taller, there is no catch-up growth in those who abused inhalants. The persistence of height impairments demonstrates that adolescent inhalant abuse can impact individuals into adulthood, despite sustained abstinence. In contrast, weight impairments associated with inhalant abuse resolved in abstinence, however, it is unknown if this represents a normalisation of weight or a rapid and unhealthy gain in weight. Further research is required to determine the health impacts of the observed weight changes.