Laughing gas use among teenagers ‘real concern’ – addiction expert
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Laughing gas use among teenagers ‘real concern’ – addiction expert

While laughing gas isn’t yet addictive, its popularity among teenagers is growing and it’s causing “real worry.”

The proceeds seized €647,000 worth of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gaslast week in Dublin Port.

Although the product is legally used in the food service industry, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the imported goods are not intended to be used for lawful purposes.”

It is believed that this gas is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers as a psychoactive substance.

Addiction expert Dr. Garrett McGovern said he specializes mainly in adults, but has seen an increase in the use of laughing gas as a stimulant.

“It seems to be gaining popularity among teenagers, which is concerning,” he said Breakfast at Newstalk.

“If you look at the treatment data in recent years, the numbers are extremely low.”

Nitrous oxide canisters Nitrous oxide canisters

Regular use, such as drinking laughing gas weekly, is not yet common, so “it’s not really an addiction yet,” but Dr. McGovern said there are concerns about the side effects of laughing gas.

“The problem comes when you take the medicine – you should never take it out of the container,” he said.

“The real concern is lack of oxygen and death by suffocation.

“In some cases there are hallucinations… There are neurological consequences for people who use it more often and these are the main problem.

“You won’t get addicted, but it’s a really short-acting drug that can be very unpleasant.”

Laughing gas in Ireland

Another problem is the lack of awareness about laughing gas – especially among parents.

“People are right to be concerned,” Dr. McGovern said. “It’s very difficult to figure out where people are getting it from.

“The risk of death is low, but it exists. We really need to be aware of this and we need to talk about it.”

He said nitrous oxide is not banned for industrial use, but it cannot be used for recreational purposes.