What is Solvent Abuse?

Solvent Abuse and or Solvent Addiction and Inhalant abuse are terms that are used interchangeably to describe the practice of purposefully breathing in (huffing or sniffing) the fumes from a variety of common household products, with the intent to get high. This practice is not the same as other forms of intentional pleasure seeking through intoxication; for the simple reason that the products inhaled are not intended for human consumption. Most of the products used are clearly marked on labels as poisons, combustibles or hazardous materials. For this reason the YSAC network supports all prevention efforts that convey the message that inhalants are chemicals never intended for human consumption.

It is the practice of YSAC not to name products specifically in any format that young people have access to. More information on potentially abusable substances can be found in the facilitators section of our prevention manual. Copies of this manual are available through the treatment centre in your region or click here.



1995, Health Canada, through the Brighter Futures/ Solvent Abuse Initiative, began the development phase for several First Nations Treatment Centres geared toward adolescent Solvent Abuse. Six centres were initially awarded, (with one already in existence) in various regions of Canada. In July 1996, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch began the establishment and implementation phase for the permanent sites. In 1998, there were additional fiscal resources set aside, adding an additional three treatment centres to this network. The original group of seven centres formed what has become a supportive network of communication and idea sharing, including the development of visionary planning for creating a cohesive and fully integrated system of national cooperation.

Throughout 1998 this network, named The Youth Solvent Abuse Committee or YSAC, came together to begin the development of a formal accreditation model. In conjunction with the accreditation process, several methods of effective treatment delivery were shared within the group. From this sharing, the group began to develop a vision of best practice guidelines for adolescent solvent treatment. The National YSAC group is now comprised of a network of 10 First Nation Youth Treatment Centres spread throughout Canada. Eight of the centres are solvent abuse specific services while 2 are targeting multi addictions. YSAC is composed of one representative from each of the National Treatment Centres, usually the Executive Director, with regional and national representation from First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Since 2000 the group has welcomed associated members from the USA, provincial facilities and drug and alcohol centres for youth.


Celebrating Success

2014 marks the seventeenth year of operation for several of the YSAC centres. Its hard to believe almost 2 decades has passed since the initial call for proposals was launched and construction of the centres started. This time passed has brought many wonderful opportunities for the centres to learn and grow. Several centres celebrated this milestone including White Buffalo who hosted a community Round Dance on June 16, 2007. Nenqayni who hosted a double 25 years in adult services and 10 years in youth inhalant treatment on September 28, 2007, and Nimkee where the highlight of the ten year celebration was the Creation of a Sacred Bundle entrusted to the Board of Directors, otherwise referred to as the “Governance Bundle” The Governance bundle was put together based on the “Creation Story” of the Anishinabe and Iroquois peoples. The Bundle was assembled through Feast and prayer by the Directors as each of them spoke for a specific article in the bundle in the presence of the membership of the corporation, community partners, NNHC staff and youth. On September 7, 2007, the Sacred Bundle was opened in Traditional Ceremony and the spirit of the Bundle was again feasted and spoken for in the presence of the community and NNHC membership as a start to the Annual General Meeting. Other events to celebrate the ten year anniversary occurred throughout the year and included: the first ever staff retreat, community based intervention & prevention activities and a change to our publications to recognize NNHC’s establishment in 1996.

Go to Top