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Calls for greater education on dangers of Nitrous Oxide after surge in use by young people

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 July 2020

Calls have been made for better education around the risks of Nitrious Oxide, after a growign trend in the numbers of young people misusing it.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Calls have been made for better education around the risks of Nitrious Oxide, after a growign trend in the numbers of young people misusing it. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A Norwich drug and alcohol charity has called for there to be more education around the dangers of nitrous oxide, following the growing trend in the numbers of young people using it as a recreational drug.

Nitrous Oxide, also known as Nos can be sold legally for medical and commercial uses, such as making whipped cream - but is illegal when sold as a psychoactive drug.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYNitrous Oxide, also known as Nos can be sold legally for medical and commercial uses, such as making whipped cream - but is illegal when sold as a psychoactive drug. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Nitrous Oxide, also known as Nos can be sold legally for medical and commercial uses, such as making whipped cream - but is illegal when sold as a psychoactive drug.

Commonly sold in small pressurised canisters, if inhaled the gas can lead to fits of giggles, hence its nickname ‘laughing gas’.

But it can also lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness and in the long term B12 deficiency and immune system problems.

Concerns have been raised that illegal use of Nos has become more common among young people during lockdown, leading some to call for greater education around the risks it poses.

Ellie Coulson, unity service and data manager for the Matthew Project, which works with young people using substances or affected by others’ use said the charity often found young people used Nos alongside other substances.

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She said; “UK wide, cannabis is the main substance young people are using but Nos is second to that. It doesn’t tend to be the primary substance, it’s taken in addition to other substances, a lot of young people will use it.”

She said there was a trend for young people to use Nos before lockdown, and that the trend had continued, in part because young people had less access to other substances but also suspected boredom played part.

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Ms Coulson said one of the main issues with Nos use among young people was its cheap availability and that its dangers weren’t recognised or understood.

She said; “Young people don’t necessarily view [Nos] as a drug, I don’t think they view it as a dangerous substance because it’s kind of known as laughing gas.

“It’s about educating people, in the same way we educate people about the dangers of alcohol, I think young people know sniffing glue or aerosols can be fatal, the message has got through, but I don’t think they quite realise the long term dangers and impact [of Nos] of your health,” she said.

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• Young people or parents and guardians concerned about a young person’s substance use can call The Matthew Project advice line on 0800 970 4866.

The line is staffed by substance misuse workers, operates during office hours Monday – Friday and offers advice, guidance and support to family members, young people and professionals from other organisations.


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