By Rhys Prka
It can be bought in Perth corner stores … you can even have it delivered to your door but Nitrous Oxide is potentially deadly and it’s now the seventh most popular drug in the world.
The drug is often used at parties or festivals and is referred to as ‘nangs’ or ‘hippie crack.’
Packaged in small metal cylinders, nitrous oxide is commonly used in whipped cream dispensers but, increasingly and alarmingly, more people are using it recreationally as their drug of choice.
Twenty-year-old ‘Eric’, of Bicton, uses the drug in conjunction with others.
“When I do MDMA or LSD…I’ll do nangs as well to enhance the experience,” Eric said.
He claims to use four to 12 canisters in a session and will only use them once a month.
“They do take a little looking around,” Eric said. “There are a few distinct shops that sell them.”
Professor Steve Allsop says the risk associated with Nitrous Oxide consumption is in the speed of intoxication.
“It’s the fact you can go from being totally sober to very intoxicated in a very short time.
“There can be a risk of coming unconscious or dying,” Professor Allsop said.
Professor Allsop warns that they can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in high doses leading to nerve damage.
The risk of injury is also heightened as users can fall over and hurt themselves if they are doing it in an unsafe environment.
Nitrous Oxide can also be dangerous when consumed in small rooms or cars as the lack of oxygen can cause unconsciousness or in some cases hypoxia, a lack of oxygen.
Nitrous Oxide usage above the age of 14 is at 3.8% according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2013.
The Global Drug Survey conducted this year found that use rose by 50% in the past six years.
The study also showed that 4% of users reported symptoms consistent with nerve damage.
Only 7.5% of users were worried about the health risks, a rise from 2.5%.
Nitrous Oxide usage is commonly used with other drugs, with one study saying 25% of those who use ecstasy and other related drugs have used the inhalant within the last six months.