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Young people in Stevenage are being warned about the dangers of nitrous oxide following an increase in reports of people using the drug in Ridlins Playing Fields, Canterbury Way Playing Fields and The Oval Community Gardens.
“Young people must realise that this seemingly harmless activity can actually cause serious damage to their health, or worse,” explained Neighbourhood Sergeant Nic Achilleos. “It is important that we raise awareness of this potentially dangerous activity and we ask families to support us by talking to their children about the risks.
“The use of nitrous oxide is not illegal, however selling or giving it away for recreational purposes is prohibited under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Those who are found to be doing so can face a fine and a prison sentence of up to seven years.”
Nitrous oxide (N2O) – also known as ‘laughing gas’, ‘Nos’, and ‘hippie crack’ – is often used as a cheap recreational drug, but many people may not be aware of the dangerous side effects.
While nitrous oxide is not a dangerous substance if used correctly, it can become addictive. The gas is usually used for medical purposes and is always given with oxygen or air under supervision. But if taken incorrectly the user may risk injury, or even death, from lack of oxygen. This is because when it enters the lungs, the gas displaces the air and temporarily prevents as much – or in some cases any – oxygen getting into the blood.
The act of ingesting the gas is called ‘ballooning’ as users often use a balloon to capture the nitrous oxide from the canister before inhaling. The drug’s effects can vary from person to person but the most common are dizziness, a feeling of euphoria, sounds becoming distorted and hallucinations.
However, when used on a long-term basis, nitrous oxide can lead to a number of health issues including incontinence and nerve damage.
For further information on nitrous oxide and its effects, you can visit the Talk to Frank website.
If you have any information about particular areas where you believe people may be using nitrous oxide, please contact police.
You can report information online, speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat or call the non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form.
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