Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

3 August 2020

| | 3 min read


North East’s young adults warned of nitrous oxide risks

The risks and dangers associated with an increasingly prevalent recreational drug have been laid out to raise awareness of the substance.

Nitrous oxide waste in Newcastle
Nitrous oxide waste in Newcastle

Often inhaled from balloons via small metal canisters, nitrous oxide is now second only to cannabis in the most consumed recreational substances by teenagers according to NHS data.

It is regularly taken alongside other substances, usually alcohol, which can cause several issues including increasing vulnerability - as well as a range of health harms.

Cllr Irim Ali, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Public Health, said: “Many members of the public will be familiar with the sight of piles of small metal canisters left discarded in parks and other places in our communities.

“What a lot of people don’t know is the risks associated with the contents of those metal canisters. The name ‘laughing gas’ may not sound too dangerous but there are genuine and very serious risks to inhaling this substance, especially when consumed with alcohol or other drugs, as it often is.

“It can cause hallucinations, delusions, nausea, a lack of coordination or unconsciousness. It has links to antisocial behaviour and is illegal to supply.

“I would encourage anyone who has concerns around nitrous oxide use, or any other substance, to contact the support services available on our website.”

There are a range of drug and alcohol services in Newcastle for advice, information and support. Newcastle Treatment and Recovery (NTaR) service support people affected by substances, regardless of age. Details of how to contact NTaR can be found here.

PROPS, which helps families and carers of people with drug and alcohol issues (including Young Carers impacted by a loved one or parents use), has produced a short film to explain the risks around nitrous oxide use, which has become increasingly common in Newcastle and the wider region recently.

The video is available to view here.

Young person's intervention worker, Dan, from PROPS, outlines the dangers of Nitrous Oxide following a rise in its use by teenagers and young adults in Newcastle

PROPS - Nitrous Oxide dangers

Claire Robinson CEO PROPS North East said: “If you are worried that someone you love is using drugs or alcohol, please get in touch. We are here for you, you are not alone.

“All too often people only turn to us when they feel things are completely falling apart. We want people to know that it is ok to ask for help.

“Our telephone advice and helplines are open 9am-9pm Monday-Sunday you can call us on 0191 226 3440 / 07791240649 or contact us through our website which you can find here.”

Nitrous Oxide is readily available to buy online, often advertised as whipped cream ‘chargers’ which are dispensed into balloons to be inhaled. The desired effect is the short burst of euphoria the consumer usually experiences.

Although it is not illegal to posses or consume, those caught supplying nitrous oxide to others face a potential seven-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine.