Police have warned of the potentially lethal danger of inhaling nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’ after seeing a rise in the number of young people in the Banbury area taking the legal high.
The warning comes following the death of an 18 year-old man after he reportedly breathed in the gas at a party in Bexley, South East London on Saturday.
Small silver canisters containing nitrous oxide, also known colloquially as ‘hippy crack’ have become a familiar sight in some parks and other recreational areas, particularly during the festival season.
Police said canisters have been discovered in several areas including in lay-bys close to Daeda’s Woods and Bodicote Mill.
Sergeant Becky Fishwick from Banbury Police Station said “We have seen an increased use of nitrous oxide gas by the teenagers and young adults in the rural community as well as in the wider Banbury area.
“We are increasing awareness to educate any young people thinking of using NO2, of what the potential life changing and fatal effects can be and also to advise parents of the signs to look for in young people that are using the gas.”
We have seen an increased use of nitrous oxide gas by the teenagers and young adults in the rural community as well as in the wider Banbury area.Police Sergeant Becky Fishwick:
Nitrous Oxide is commonly inhaled, usually with the aid of balloons. It leaves users feeling euphoric and relaxed, with some experiencing hallucinations. According to drugs charity DrugScope about half a million people are regular users.
Prolonged use of nitrous oxide causes significant loss of vitamin B12, causing brain and nerve damage. It has been associated with anaemia, tinnitus, numbness in extremities and even death.
Due to the fact that the effects are very short lived, nitrous oxide is psychologically and not physically addictive. It therefore lends itself well to ‘binging’ in an attempt to stay high, and this can lead to Oxygen deprivation.
Oxygen deprivation leads to loss of consciousness. As nitrous oxide suppresses the gagging reflex, this can lead to choking, asphyxiation and death.
It is illegal to sell nitrous oxide and anyone with any information about the sale of it in the Banbury area is encouraged to please contact the police through the non-emergency enquiry centre on 101.
If you do not want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.