Health professionals are calling for an immediate crackdown on the sale of “nangs”, nitrous oxide canisters, which young people are using for a “cheap, potent” and potentially fatal high.. Picture: Peter Ristevski
Health professionals are calling for an immediate crackdown on the sale of “nangs”, nitrous oxide canisters, which young people are using for a “cheap, potent” and potentially fatal high.. Picture: Peter Ristevski

Calls for crackdown on 'disgusting' potentially deadly high

HEALTH professionals are calling for an immediate crackdown on the sale of "nangs", nitrous oxide canisters, which young people are using for a "cheap, potent" and potentially fatal high.

The canisters, designed for whipping cream, are available over the counter and by delivery services and can lead to respiratory issues, loss of blood pressure, fainting and heart attacks.

The calls come after the South Australian Government announced on Sunday it would ban any sales of "nangs" canisters from 10pm-5am and to those under 18.

When asked if they would follow suit, a Queensland Health spokeswoman said they were working with other departments and agencies to "prevent and reduce harm from inhalant and other drug use as a statewide, regional and local level".

Queensland Health say the long-term health effects of nitrous oxide use include memory loss, depression, psychosis, incontinence, weakened immune system and other serious conditions.

The Health Retreat founder Francis McLaughlin, a man who deals with addiction on a daily basis, called for the sale of the canisters to be "banned immediately".

Mr McLaughlin referred to nangs as "heavy duty".

"It's a catastrophe waiting to happen and should be rushed through in parliament," Mr McLaughlin said.

"It's deliberately preying on vulnerable people.

"What sort of person would do that to someone? It's disgusting."

Mr McLaughlin said he feared for the brain's ability to function in both the short and long term, particularly if young people inhaled the substance.

"You wouldn't be able to function at school, that's the reality," he said.

"I have heard people are doing taking it for pain, physical pain because it's cheaper than meds.

"There's a strong chance it becomes a gateway drug to other things too."

He said he had been told it was a problem right across the country, including the Sunshine Coast.

Should more be done to prevent young people using "nangs" to get high?

This poll ended on 25 March 2020.

Current Results

Yes.

75%

No.

21%

I'm not sure.

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

AMA Sunshine Coast president Dr Roger Faint said the canisters were cheap and far too easily available for young people.

"Those little cylinders basically contain the same chemical that we give to women in labour, so it's a very potent, short-term high," Dr Faint said.

"Easy access to it is the big problem and denying that access is always helpful.

"It seems to be a very solitary thing too. You go and buy it and snort it alone. From what I gather it's not a social experience."

Dr Faint said the spontaneity of the users made it dangerous.

"I don't know how significant a problem it is here, but I have two kids at university and they say to know someone using nangs is not uncommon," he said.

University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine Associate Professor Jason Ferris called for more education and a harm-reduction message to work alongside any sale ban.

Prof Ferris, a substance abuse expert, said the medically graded canisters were normally used for child birth or dentistry.

Sunshine Coast Tactical Crime Squad officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Scott Wiggins said he was unaware of any issues with nangs locally.

"I don't recall any incident or seizing charges over the past year at all," Snr Sgt Wiggins said.


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