New Guideline Improves the Management of Volatile Substance Use

ARCHIVED CONTENT – For reference purposes only

Summary media release information

28 October 2011
Joint Ministerial Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Minister Butler - Virginia Kim: 0407 415 484 or Minister Snowdon - Alice Plate: 0400 045 999

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

Minister for Indigenous Health

The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, and Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, today welcomed Australia’s first Consensus-Based Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Volatile Substance Use in Australia, and a quick-reference summary, to support heath workers treating clients in this challenging area.

Volatile substance use (VSU) - inhaling solvents, gases and aerosols for intoxication - is a significant problem in some Australian communities. 

Mr Butler said people who use volatile substances, such as petrol or glue, often have special needs not met by conventional drug and alcohol treatment strategies.

“Health professionals working in metropolitan, rural and remote communities now have a clinical practice guideline that provides a planned approach to identify, assess and treat people who use volatile substances,” Mr Butler said.

“This means that the best quality clinical information is now easily accessible to general practitioners, health workers, as well as other clinicians.”

Mr Snowdon said the short and long term consequences of substance use can be devastating not only for the individual and their family, but also for their community.

“Research indicates volatile substance use is highest among young people from socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised groups including some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“That is why culturally secure practices, including outstation rehabilitation, were considered in the development of these guidelines,” he said.

The National Health and Medical Research Council developed the guideline assisted by a committee of medical and social experts using the best available scientific evidence and consensus based recommendations.

The guideline and quick-reference summary are intended for use by health professionals including doctors, nurses, Aboriginal health workers, Ngangkari (traditional healers), alcohol and other drug workers and allied health professionals.

The new volatile substance use guideline will support the Australian Government’s commitment to tackling petrol sniffing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Government is investing almost $108 million over five years to roll out low aromatic Opal fuel.

A 2008 review found petrol sniffing in Central Australian and APY lands communities dropped by over 90 per cent in the 12 months following Opals introduction.

The Guideline and quick-reference summary document can be found at: