Cork anti-drugs campaigner warns about dangerous use of laughing gas

Cork anti-drugs campaigner warns about dangerous use of laughing gas
Picture: Alex and Nicole Ryan

THE sister of a teenage boy who died after taking the synthetic drug “N Bomb” has urged youngsters not to try “laughing gas” after reports emerged of empty canisters and cartridges being found on Irish beaches.

Alex Ryan, of Liscahane in Millstreet died in 2016 after consuming a synthetic drug known as N Bomb at a house party in Cork city. His older sister Nicole has visited dozens of schools around the country to speak to students and to raise awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs.

Nicole has called on young people not to try nitrous oxide a “laughing gas” which can lead to death by suffocation. She warns that it is a depressant and slows down the messages travelling from the brain to the body.

“The effects are immediate and tend to last two to three minutes while some other side effects can last 30-40 minutes,” she said. “When somebody inhales laughing gas, it makes them giddy and laugh uncontrollably hence its name — it can also make them feel like they are floating.

“Inhaling nitrous oxide can be fatal if it cuts off your oxygen supply causing hypoxia. Basically your brain suffocates.

“When inhaling directly from a canister/whippet the gas is extremely cold (around -40oc) and can cause frostbite to the lips, nose and throat. “

Nicole says the gas can cause ruptures in the lung tissue when it’s inhaled from the canister.

“A person can also really harm themselves if the canister is faulty because it can explode So, for the sake of a two- to three-minute high it’s really not worth it.”

Earlier this year the HSE warned of the dangers of the gas which is popular among festival goers. The gas is intended for use as an anesthetic in dental practices or as propellant in whipped cream canisters. Under Irish legislation, it is illegal to sell it or consume it.

Long term risks associated with frequent use include red blood cell problems and Vitamin B deficiency.

Meanwhile, Ms Ryan has urged the public to consider organ donation after it emerged that a woman who received a kidney from her brother was able to walk part of the arduous Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Earlier this month Nicole and her mother Irene received a massive boost when a card came in the letterbox from a middle aged woman who was the recipient of Alex’s kidney.

Nicole says they also received a card from the woman’s daughter.

“I was so excited and as I was reading the first card I was crying, but the second one was so poignant that I couldn’t continue reading it out loud until I regained control as it was overwhelming.

“The lady who got Alex’s kidney said she had given up hope she would ever get one. She was so happy when she had the transplant which made such a difference to her whole life.

“Fourteen months after the operation she was well enough to walk part of the Camino de Santiago. “

Nicole said the card from the woman’s daughter, who recently got married, really opened the emotional floodgates.

Nicole is calling on other families who find themselves in tragic circumstances to consider organ donation.

“Please give them if you can as it is the gift of life for so many others and as time passes it is a great comfort to know that part of your loved one lives on,” Nicole said.

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