'Epidemic' sees people inhaling from giant nitrous oxide canisters

By Jessica Green

‘Terrifying epidemic’ of laughing gas is leaving young adults with spinal cord damage, burst lungs and ‘unable to walk’

  • Taking to online platforms, those impacted by the trend have warned about risks 
  • Including Kerry Donaldson, 25, of London, who was left with spinal cord damage
  • Former receptionist revealed how her ‘hippy crack’ binges damaged spinal cord

It’s a ‘terrifying epidemic‘ that sees young adults inhaling from giant nitrous oxide – or better known as laughing gas – cylinders, and it’s becoming increasingly popular, according to the experts.

Some young people who have inhaled the substance, which causes a feeling of euphoria, relaxation and dissociation from reality, have been left with spinal cord damage, burst lungs and ‘unable to walk’.

Taking to TikTok and other platforms, those negatively impacted by the trend have continuously warned about the risks – including Kerry Donaldson, 25, from Newham in London.

The former receptionist revealed in July 2022 how her ‘hippy crack’ binges damaged her spinal cord and forced her to rely on her dad for round-the-clock care.

Elsewhere, Alex Littler, from Cheshire, was rushed to hospital on 20 June this year after complaining of a swollen neck, breathlessness and that his chest felt like ‘popping bubble wrap’ when touched due to the air leaking from a ruptured lung.

The year 11 student was forced to confess to doctors and devastated mother Cathy McCann, 44, that he’d inhaled nitrous oxide – or ‘nos’ – over the weekend while at Parklife music festival in Heaton Park, Manchester, on June 11 and 12. 

According to the European Union drugs monitoring agency EMCDDA, the recreational use of nitrous oxide is on the rise in Europe among young people, producing worrying numbers of poisonings.

The growing popularity of the substance stems from its wide over-the-counter availability, low price, ease of use and the false perception that it is safe, the Lisbon-based agency said.

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