Concerns about the abuse of nitrous oxide have resurfaced

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Teenagers are being encouraged not to use so-called “laughing gas”.

Concerns about nitrous oxide have resurfaced as its use among teenagers increases.

Numbness in the hands and feet, problems with balance and heart rate – these are just some of the side effects of using laughing gas.

Addiction specialist Dr Garrett McGovern from Priority Medical Clinic in Dublin says although the number of people becoming addicted is low, the effects can be fatal.

“The problem is that if it is taken, it should never be removed from the container.

“The real concern is the lack of oxygen and deaths due to suffocation.

“In some cases, hallucinations occur and this has neurological consequences in people who use it more frequently.

“It’s a really short-acting drug that can be very unpleasant.”

Nitrous oxide is legally used in the food service industry, but its abuse among teenagers is on the rise.

Dublin TD Mark Ward is not surprised:

“This has been going on for four years and we have noticed that it is an increasing phenomenon.

“What started as small silver canisters called “silver bullets” now use large, industrial-sized canisters of laughing gas or nitrous oxide.

Deputy Ward is spearheading the legislative changes and his proposals will be presented to other TDs over the next few weeks.

“The use of laughing gas for industrial purposes and in legal activities is legal.

“Drug use is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act, but it is very difficult to prove.

“So gardaí have to prove that someone intends to use it for human consumption and this bill will regulate the use of nitrous oxide and therefore businesses will need to be licensed to use it.”

Last week, canisters of nitrous oxide worth €650,000 were confiscated in Dublin Port.