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Social meaning of inhalant use in Victoria: Implications for development of policy and intervention



Dr Sarah McLean


Chroming—sniffing aerosol paint fumes—is a form of inhalant use that has attracted significant policy interest over recent years in Australia. Young people who are acutely socially marginalised are the main participants in chroming and are identified, according to most previous research, as dysfunctional individuals. Victorian policy responses explain chroming as a symptom of sickness or incapacity.

This study applies contemporary sociological analysis to the world of inhalant users in Melbourne, drawing on interviews with users, ex-users and expert workers, as well as wider public accounts in research, policy and media coverage.

This study also critiques current Victorian policy approaches to inhalant use and suggests ways in which harms associated with inhalant use and with existing treatment and management strategies might be reduced.


This research provides new understandings of chroming from the perspectives of users and ex-users. Centrally, it shows why inhalant use is attractive to some marginalised young people. The thesis argues that understanding the pleasures of inhalant use is critical in designing policy and intervention.

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