Laughing gas use damages the environment, spoils parks and open spaces for families and communities and also has risks for users
What is Nitrous Oxide? Nitrous Oxide is commonly known as NOS or Laughing Gas. It is a sweet –tasting colourless gas which is dispensed from a small silver canister into a container, such as a balloon or plastic bag and inhaled from the container for a short-lived high.
What are the effects of NOS? NOS is a depressant drug that will slow your system down. People may feel sick, dizzy, or fall over. It can provide a feeling of Euphoria (feeling great), laughter, relaxation, changes to sounds, hallucinations (things look different to usual, or you might see things that aren’t there). But the effects only last a few seconds so some people are tempted to use more.
What are the risks? Mixing NOS with other substances increases the risks, and makes you more vulnerable to health complications –including a loss of blood pressure, fainting and even heart attack. Inhaling it direct from the canister can cause death as it can freeze and cause a spasm in the throat Inhaling the gas from a plastic bag can cause suffocation. Using NOS can make you feel sick, dizzy and unstable and lead to a lack of essential vitamins.
How does it effect the community and environment? The used canisters have been appearing in St Helens parks, open spaces and alleyways. The empty vessels are often discarded in large piles, which are unsightly and spoil community spaces for others The balloons, which are often used to inhale the gas once dispensed from the canisters, can have a deadly impact on wildlife, such as birds, who mistake them for food. As not many people actually know what the canisters are, they can cause an increased feeling of fear about drugs use in the community.
What does the law say? Although the canisters are not illegal to possess as they are usually sold as a whipped cream propellant for use with whipped cream dispensers, they do come with risks when they are used for recreational drugs use and are illegal to supply for the purpose of inhaling.
Talking to young people about it If you’re worried your child is using NOS, raise the issue with your child and make sure they understand the levels of risk. Try opening with a phrase like: ‘I saw something in the paper recently that worried me. I wanted to discuss it with you to see if you know anything about it…’ and taking it from there.
Getting help and advice If you or others think you might need to speak to someone about your NOS use, call St Helens YPDAAT on 01744 677990
Reporting the litter for removal If you see these canisters and balloons in our communities, please report them for removal to St Helens Council Contact Centre by calling: 01744 676789 or by logging their location on the Council’s app: https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/community-living/digital-st-helens/do-it-online/