Call for crackdown on nitrous oxide ‘nangs’
THERE are calls for a crackdown on the sales of nitrous oxide "nangs" with doctors claiming they have caused "shrivelled brains" in users.
Drug counsellors and health professionals are calling for tougher restrictions on the canisters, designed for whipping cream, which young people are using to get high.
It's believed Hamish Bidgood fell to his death from the balcony of a Surfer's Paradise apartment block after drinking and inhaling nitrous oxide during Schoolies celebrations.
The Turramurra High student was alone in the hotel room at the time he fell 11 storeys.
"There is no foul play involved," a police source told The Saturday Telegraph.
"That's not to say what happened was not a decision influenced while high on drugs or alcohol."
The canisters of nitrous oxide are being sold for $1 each at convenience stores across Schoolies hot spots.
While the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act states "psychoactive substances" can't be sold "knowing it was to be used for human consumption", police media could not point The Saturday Telegraph to a single example of someone being prosecuted over selling nangs.
Byron Underage Drinking and Drug Initiative team leader Nicqui Yazdi has been doing outreach at Schoolies in the north NSW tourist hotspot and said there were "absolutely" more nangs this year.
She has called for tougher regulations around sales.
"They're easily available, you can get them on Uber Eats … with shop owners legally allowed to sell them, young people are going to continue to use them. Like any drug they're oblivious to any potential damage and think it 'won't be me,' " she said.
Dr Andrew Dawson of The Children's Hospital at Westmead said he had seen 20-year-olds with the shrivelled brains of someone who has been using alcohol for 40 years.
"Because it's easy to get, people believe they must be safe but there are risks," he said.
Dr Hester Wilson of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners agreed a review would be useful.
"Stronger regulation is certainly worth a look," she said. "We need to consider if accessibility is something to rethink."
NSW shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch supported a review.
Drug and firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman said the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide recreationally are obvious and users were taking their life into the hands. "It's flat out stupid," he said.