DEADLY NEW USE OF LEGAL HIGH
BALLOONS AND GIGGLES...BUT LAUGHING GAS IS NOTHING TO JOKE ABOUT
by Nick Francis
MUSIC festival fans are getting their highs on laughing gas - despite warnings it can kill.
The growing misuse of nitrous oxide as a drug comes in the wake of meow
meow and NRG-1 being recommended to be banned.
Users suck the gas - known as "hippy crack" - from balloons to get a two-minute kick of euphoria and uncontrollable fits of laughter.
It is popular because it is seen to be a safe drug and possessing and inhaling it is LEGAL.
Nitrous oxide is used medically as an anaesthetic, most commonly during child-
birth or dental work, and recently the number of thefts from hospitals has soared.
And last night Sun doctor Carol Cooper warned she knew of 15 deaths a year in
the US from abusing the gas.
She said: "There's a risk of passing out and even asphyxiating to death from lack of oxygen
"Nitrous oxide works quickly, making it an obvious drug for abuse. The main effects are light-headedness, dizziness, a feeling of well-being, euphoria, pain relief and often a sensation of floating.
"Some describe distorted sounds, especially if listening to music, which could add to the festival experience."
Dealers make up to £1,200 in a single night selling laughing gas - more lucrative than selling Class A drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Despite its harmful side effects, The Sun discovered there are no measures to control who gets their hands on nitrous oxide.
We bought FIVE canisters online for less than £30, which included next day delivery from a company based in Yorkshire.
The law allows anyone over 18 to buy nitrous oxide, although we were not asked to prove our age.
A dealer can fill around 40 balloons from a single cannister, which are then sold for £ to £4 each.
They sneak canisters into festivals and clubs, then fill the balloons once past any security checks.
Festival staff have reported finding thousands of balloons strewn across fields.
Fans have been spotted passing balloons around in a circle before collapsing in fits of laughter.
A full balloon is enough to give four people a hit.
On Facebook there is a page dedicated to laughing gas with 2,600 followers and,
more worryingly, a page called Mr Gas - Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide Delivery
service in Cardiff.
If you follow the link it promises to deliver nitrous oxide to your door WITHIN AΝ HOUR of ordering and give a price on request.
Mum-of-two Leanne Mato, 23, from Liverpool, who has used laughing gas, said: "I did it in Ibiza on holiday but did it again at the Creamfields festival in Liverpool.
"Some people inhale it straight from the canister rather than a balloon, which
must be dangerous. If you look around at festivals loads of people are using it.
"I only did it to be sociable as everyone in my group was trying it but it made us all feel sick and wobbly on our feet."
Dr Ken Checinski, consultant psychologist to drugs information charity FRANK,
said: "Nitrous oxide can starve the brain of oxygen which leads cells in the brain
to break down very quickly."
And he added: 'This can cause a haemorrhage, seizures or simply lead the person to have a serious accident. All of which can kill.
Edited by bryanj01, 17 July 2010 - 04:49 AM.