Home Nigeria NDLEA Orders Clampdown of Illegal Use/Sale of Laughing Gas, as Psychiatrists Say...

NDLEA Orders Clampdown of Illegal Use/Sale of Laughing Gas, as Psychiatrists Say Users are Prone to Brain Damage


Laughing gas sales to be outlawed in government's legal highs clampdown ...By Uche Amunike

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), had mandated all commands and formations of the agency to begin a clampdown on the illegal use and sale of Nitrous Oxide, also known as Laughing Gas, as a result of the high level of abuse by people who indulge in it for recreational purposes.

This directive was given by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Mohammed Buba Marwa and disclosed in a statement released by the NDLEA Director of Media and Advocacy Mr. Femi Babafemi,  Tuesday.

Speaking through the statement, he explained that the NDLEA’s decision to swoop in on those involved in the illegal use and sales of laughing gas came up as a result of the analysis realized concerning the effects on those who abuse the substance.

Some of those effects include dizziness, hallucinations, lightheadedness, fainting spells, suffocation caused by a lack of oxygen, neurological complications, headaches,  unconscious spells and most importantly, psychiatric symptoms.

The anti-drug agency, however  appealed to parents, guardians and even stakeholders to be at alert and caution their young ones against attempting to experiment or abuse this substance as it poses threats to their mental and general alertness.

Laughing gas is colorless and commonly used for sedating patients and relieving their pain by dentists and medical professionals going through medical procedures. It has recently become a fast rising drug, highly in demand in Nigeria by young fun seekers who want to be intoxicated or high at parties. Most times, they use it by transferring it from its containers into balloons, from where it is inhaled, so as to give them euphoric effects.

Meanwhile, mental health experts have advised Nigerians to prevent inhaling laughing gas, as it causes not only nerve or brain damage, but is also capable of making  people who use it, to have developmental disorders known as Schizophrenia or psychosis. They noted that, even though it creates a temporary sensation of relaxation and euphoria, it is more dangerous than cocaine.

They also indicated that the persistent use of laughing gas could slow down the heartbeats of the users, which might result in a heart attack and also, that abusing the substance might lead to vitamin B12 cobalamin deficiency, which can cause brain and nerve damage. It also causes a tingling sensation and numbness in the feet.

Most Health experts advised against using these substances beyond medical use in order to avoid the damaging effect it has on brain communication.

The head of Drug Addiction Treatment Education Research at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta in Ogun State,  Dr Sunday Amosu, a psychiatrist, made it clear that the steady use of Laughing Gas leads to people developing symptoms that might cause irreversible brain damage in the abuser.

His words: ‘We know that we depend on oxygen. The brain depends on oxygen and glucose. If nitrous oxide takes over, it means the brain will develop what is called hypoxia, and that is how it causes damage to the brain.’

‘It is a public health problem. Today, there are many studies about nitrous oxide. It is like heroin and cocaine that are being abused.’

‘The effect of this substance is that it affects the central nervous system; that is why people must avoid it. Today, we need to educate people about nitrous oxide and all other drugs of abuse. The common mental illnesses it can cause schizophrenia or psychosis, which can lead to hallucinations or hearing voices others cannot. It may also lead to the individual being admitted. And you know when somebody has such a problem and is admitted, it means that such a person has brought illness to the family and other family members can inherit it because of genetic disposition.’





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