Australia’s ‘nang’ capital could soon make major changes to ban sale of the gas after a 19-year-old girl raised fears she may never walk again after becoming addicted to the product.
On Wednesday, WA Premier Mark McGowan backed calls for tighter restrictions on nitrous oxide gas.
“If this is how they’re being used by young people … to me it makes a bit of sense not to have these things at all,” he said.
“That might mean that you can’t have cream that you spray out of canisters or those sorts of things. But it does make a bit of sense.”
Available as compressed liquefied gas used legally as an anaesthetic and to whip cream, nitrous oxide has found a secondary market as a recreational drug.
Perth was revealed as the country’s top abuser of nangs last year in a study of drug trends by the National Drug and Research Centre at the University of NSW.
The survey revealed 70 per cent of participants admitted using nangs to get high in the past six months, compared to a national average of 45 per cent.
Mr McGowan’s comments received bipartisan backing by the leader of WA’s Liberal Party, Libby Mettam, praised as sending a “strong message” against abuse of the drug.
“There’s a very real concern about how accessible this product is for young teenagers,” she said.
“We do need to see some action.”
Nitrous oxide canisters which can be bought legally by anyone over the age of 16, were reclassified in October last year as a schedule 6 poison amid concern about recreational misuse.
Canisters must now be labelled with the word “poison” and have specific warnings against inhalation.
Molly Day, 19, told A Current Affair this week she began using nangs 18 months ago at parties celebrating the end of the school year.
“Two weeks ago, I was a perfectly healthy walking girl and now I can‘t do anything for myself. I can’t walk, I can’t control anything,” she said.
“Please listen to me. Just don’t do them.”
The teenager is now bed-bound with nitrous oxide poisoning, leaving her with little feeling from the waist down.
A September 2022 report by Western Australia’s Department of Health noted there were 22 presentations to hospitals related to the use of nitrous oxide in 2020.
Eight patients had “severe” degeneration of the spinal cord and neurological symptoms.
The report raised concerns businesses were targeting users by offering 24 hour delivery services and promoting the party drug on social media.
“Increasing use of nitrous oxide as a recreational drug is a worldwide phenomenon,” it found.