Adolescent solvent abusers reported that different colours of paint cause different types of hallucinations, according to a remarkable study just published in Drug and Alcohol Review.
The research, led by Michael Takagi from the University of Melbourne, was only a small study of 16 young people who sniffed spray paints, but the results are quite striking.
Although all users reported similar levels of pleasure, all those who preferred chrome paint (gold, chrome and silver) reported they used it for the vivid, detailed visual and auditory hallucinations while those who preferred non-chrome paint rarely experienced changes in perception.
The briefly described experiences are as heartbreaking as they are curious:
For example, one young inhalant user had been removed from her home and placed in residential care. She found the situation difficult and did not assimilate well with her housemates, who had also been removed from their homes. Every day, she would go behind the fence of her residential unit and sniff CP [chrome paint]. She reported that faces would appear out of the wooden fence and talk with her, and she felt that these were her only friends. In contrast, another young inhalant user particularly enjoyed playing video games that were available in his residential unit. However, he was only allowed to play for specific amount of time each day. After sniffing CP, he would hallucinate that he was the hero of the video game.
Furthermore, all of the chrome paint users reported that the hallucinations they experienced differed between colours, whereas only a third of the non-chrome paint users said this was the case.
The study didn’t enquire exactly how the experiences differed between colours, and it can’t say how much the differing reported effects are due to different paint ingredients or simply due to their psychological associations, as it was just a survey of effects.