Borough Insight

No to NOS

Small, silver nitrous oxide canisters are a regular sight across the borough, littering playing fields, parks and almost anywhere young people gather.Image of Nos canisters

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, hippy crack and NOS, is the second most commonly used recreational drug in England after cannabis.

It can bring on feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness and also fits of giggles - but there are a number of dangerous side-effects including, in extreme cases, death.

The drug can be used legitimately. In the catering industry it is used to keep whipped cream pressurised for example, but it has recently become a popular illicit drug, usually inhaled through a balloon.

Nitrous oxide interferes with the oxygen supply to the brain; the gas can cause severe headaches, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, and has been linked to 25 deaths since 2010. The Royal College of Nursing last year warned that many who take it have no idea of the risks it carries, which can also include vitamin B-12 deficiency, jaundice, mouth ulcers, dizziness and permanent nerve damage.

There is a fear that the gas is replacing the previously ‘traditional’ gateway to drugs use of cannabis or solvents. Besides the immediate health risks to users, people driving under the influence of nitrous oxide is also an area of increasing concern.

We've been reminding local retailers that under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, nitrous oxide is illegal to sell or supply for recreational use. As well as fines, those supplying the gas knowing it is being used for recreational purposes can face prison sentences of up to seven years.

We've been using our social media channels to highlighting the Talk to FRANK national drugs helpline.FRANK is a website and national telephone helpline offering advice, information and support to anyone concerned about drugs and solvent/volatile substance:

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